The Caltex Socceroos have enjoyed their first training session in Kazan in front of thousands of local fans as the FIFA World Cup™ opener against France looms just days away.
Plus striker Jamie Maclaren has spoken of the confidence growing within the camp, with the group’s winning mentality growing after friendly wins over the Czech Republic and Hungary.
There were 3,212 local fans on hand to watch Bert van Marwijk’s men get put through their paces for the first time in Russia on Monday as the Caltex Socceroos got preparations underway for the France game.
With their first session at the Stadium Trudovye Rezervy, which has been transformed with banners of some of Australia’s greatest moments on the international stage, the players delighted the onlookers.
As part of FIFA’s initiatives at each FIFA World Cup™, local supporters were able to attend the first of Australia’s training sessions before first match of the tournament on Saturday 16 June at 8pm AEST.
“Landing here with the fantastic reception and the [accommodation] is fantastic, the boys are happy and that’s important when the team is all happy and confident,” striker Jamie Maclaren told socceroos.com.au.
“We had our first session today which was great.
“The whole wrap of it, walking out today there were 3,000 fans. Me and Dimi (Petratos) had a joke when we were walking around the field that now it feels like a World Cup.
“Obviously it’s the first that we have experienced, and you want to soak every minute up but we also know that there is a job at hand and we look forward to France.”
There are constant reminders for players of some of the iconic moments in Australian sport, with banners remembering the teams from 1974, 2006, 2010 and 2014 who previously played at a FIFA World Cup™.
From the legendary Johnny Warren walking out onto the pitch in Australia’s first ever FIFA World Cup™, to John Aloisi slotting his famous penalty to end the Caltex Socceroos’ 32-year drought and Tim Cahill’s goals against Japan in 2006 and against the Netherlands in 2014, players are reminded to ‘Honour the Dream’ every Australian football fan holds.
For Maclaren, that begins against France to kick off Group C, with confidence high within the group that they can cause an upset against one of the tournament favourites.
“Against France, you wouldn’t want it to start any other way,” Maclaren added.
“We believe in ourselves and we’ve got a coaching staff that gives you confidence and we just want to go out there and perform.
“It shows the last two games that we’ve found a way to win and sometimes in football you have to do that at international level. We’ve done that and we want to carry on that confidence.”