The Caltex Socceroos may be just three days away from their must-win FIFA World Cup™ clash against Peru but coach Bert van Marwijk gave the players a rare day off to recharge the batteries.
While Saturday morning’s usual media commitments – where three players are put up for press conferences – still went ahead, the players then had the day to themselves rather than hitting the training pitch.
DAY 34 WRAP: Focus switches to pivotal Peru clash
After five weeks in camp together, it was a rare chance to refresh the body and mind before taking on Peru on Wednesday morning (AEST) - live on SBS and Optus Sport.
"Two days after a game is the always maybe most difficult. A lot of sportsmen, not just footballers, say it's the most difficult," defender Aziz Behich told reporters in Kazan.
"Sometimes you just need the body to rest and refresh mentally.
"But I feel fit. The boys are all fit.
"I haven't felt this good two days after a game in a long time."
The players and staff had the opportunity to do whatever they on what was a local holiday for the Tatar people of the region.
A group of players, led by defender Trent Sainsbury, opted to get out of their AK Bars team base and head out on a sightseeing tour of Kazan.
Tim Cahill and James Meredith were among a few players and staff who felt it was time for a trim, getting a fresh haircut ahead of the final match in Group C.
As well as playing some basketball in the team gym, the other major activity the players have used to unwind all camp has been to play cards.
Playing ‘21’ is the game of choice, with Cahill and Robbie Kruse the players who have enjoyed the most success.
While the day of rest and recovery has come at the perfect time for the Socceroos, they’ll return to training on Sunday to ramp up preparations for Peru.
If the Socceroos are to reach the knockout phase, they have to win the match against the already-eliminated South Americans and then hope France can beat Denmark in the other game.
"We have just got to focus on ourselves," said Behich, when asked about the permutations of the final group matches.
"We still have to do our job and make sure that we beat Peru.
"I have got a lot of believe that France will do the job against Denmark but we have got to focus on ourselves because we have got a tough task ahead."
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