Stamina and fitness will be a key
Australia’s players believe that stamina and fitness levels will play a crucial role in the knockout stages of the competition and that the hard work early in their preparation could be crucial.
Australia-s players believe that stamina and fitness levels will play a crucial role in the knockout stages of the competition and that the hard work early in their preparation could be crucial.
Are three demanding games in the group stages, Australia now face the prospect of four games in the next two weeks, that is if it can make the final?
The Socceroos will play the first of these matches against Italy on Monday in Kaiserslautern in the Second Round.
Lucas Neill believes the fatigue factor will play a significant part in the matches from here on in and he now understands why Guus Hiddink put them through a gruelling two weeks of hard physical training in Melbourne and Holland.
“Definitely,” said Neill, when asked the question the day after they got the point they needed to get through to the next round.
“In a tournament situation, it-s very draining just too simply qualify out of your group. Games come thick and fast now and we-ve got plenty of heart in this team.
“If Italy has got a weakness perhaps we can impose it, in that perhaps we might be physically stronger than them and have more endurance.”
“We feel stamina wise and physically, we can match any team, if not get above any team because we have got a very, very fit team and we will try and play to that strength.”
His central defensive partner Craig Moore was a little bit more circumspect, but added that the hard work early in the preparation was definitely paying off for the team.
“We have been in situations where we are chasing games,” said Moore. “Like the Japanese game, coming from behind, losing a goal against Brazil and the game opens up and the way the game panned out last night as well.
“But in saying that, we-ve put a lot of hard work into the lead up and it-s definitely paying dividends.”
The loss of Brett Emerton through suspension for the Italy game will be significant because he has been one player, whose energy and ability to keep running for the full 90 minutes, has been a highlight so far in the tournament.