Caltex Socceroos assistant coaches Mark van Bommel and Roel Coumans have given their verdict after an intensive first week of training in Turkey before the FIFA World Cup.
With three players still yet to arrive in camp – Tom Rogic, Mile Jedinak and Danny Vukovic – 23 players in Bert van Marwijk’s extended squad were put through their paces in Antalya before they now enjoy a day off (Sunday in Turkey) to rest up before the pre-Russia challenge of the Czech Republic.
Already, according to Coumans, the improvements from March – where the team played Norway and Colombia – is evident as van Marwijk and his staff look to develop the playing style.
“The first 10 days in Norway and London the guys were very quiet and probably and with, I don’t know how you say it in English, ‘strange eyes’ so they were holding back,” Coumans explained to socceroos.com.au.
“But now you see this week the players are opening up already and understand where we want to go.
“We can’t give them the full information in one day so we have to go step-by-step and they are opening up and their working attitude is very good so we can improve a lot.”
Coumans added: “The most difficult part of this week has been that players come in at different times.
“And that some players, the league stopped already two or three weeks ago and for someone like Josh Risdon, it stopped four weeks ago. So we have to get them as quickly as possible on the same physical level and that’s been the most important part of this week – to get the right information about how they are feeling with the support of the sports science and medical team.
“This week has worked out well, we did a lot of work and now it’s time for them to rest one day and to load again for the next week.
“If you see the first days and now you see yesterday or today, you can see they’ve improved and they understand which way we want to go. You see the quality of the training sessions are getting higher and higher and that’s the only way to develop our style of play.”
Former Dutch international Mark van Bommel is another of van Marwijk’s assistant coaches and has been singled out for his attention to detail on the training park.
Van Bommel was seen meticulously setting up a training exercise for Saturday’s session, which helped the players focus on remaining compact without the ball to force the opponent into turnovers.
“It’s a nice pitch and we have an idea to push forward and defend forward,” van Bommel explained about his session.
“Sometimes the details make a difference. If you can manage that, the detail can improve us and there’s a good chance to win our games.”
Coumans is also confident that the approach to training can help the Caltex Socceroos be successful in Russia, with one of the tournament favourites France our first group stage opponents on 16 June.
“The good part of this first week, first 10 days, is that we don’t have a game,” he said.
“The next week is good that there’s a game [against the Czech Republic] in it so they can get in the rhythm of playing, recovering, a few more sessions and then we go to Russia with a more natural rhythm so we can also see the way we want to play and which players have evolved.
“Everyone knows we don’t have the best players in the world … but Bert already mentioned it a few times – it’s not about having the best players, it’s about being the best team.
“And with the mentality and attitude the players show, we can be the best team and that can get us to the next level, out of the group stage.”