The Socceroos completed one final torturous training session on the NSW Central Coast before shifting base to Sydney tonight (Wednesday).
The squad produced their most intense and focused session in their week-long stay on the Coast, with coach Ange Postecoglou demanding improvement with the World Cup in Brazil just over three weeks away.
The session was undertaken before the big reveal of the Socceroo leadership group in front of the media.
Almost every member of the 23 players that are currently in camp took part in the morning session, with only newly-appointed skipper Mile Jedinak sitting out due to his groin injury.
Tom Rogic, Jason Davidson, Alex Wilkinson, James Holland, Tim Cahill, James Troisi, Mark Milligan, Adam Sarota, Massimo Luongo, Adam Taggart, Eugene Galekovic, Bailey Wright, Mark Birighitti, Mathew Leckie, Ivan Franjic, Tommy Oar, Matt McKay, Josh Brillante, Ben Halloran and Mark Bresciano were all involved in humid conditions at Central Coast Stadium.
The 90-minute hit-out again started under the watchful eye of chief physiotherapist Les Gelis with stretching before getting into a light warm-up with three laps of pitch.
But things got a lot more physical and intense after that as the squad immediately broke into two groups of nine for a crisp passing drill.
Postecoglou then had the players split into three groups of six in a four-v-two, keeping possession in a very small area requiring quick and accurate passing.
The session continued on that similar theme for much of the morning, working the players in short, sharp drills that required a lot of movement, but always with the ball in tight areas and working under heavy pressing.
It's the type of scenario that will undoubtedly face the side in Brazil up against heavyweights Spain, Chile and the Netherlands.
It was easily the most animated Postecoglou has been during the first phase of training camp, barking instructions and pushing the side to its limits knowing the size of the task ahead.
The session finished with a small-sided game, where the players were able to work on some sort of shape, as well as test out goal-keeping hopefuls Galekovic and Birighitti.
Leckie and Taggart filled the striking roles for their respective sides and looked sharp in front of goal, with the Jets striker in particular looking to press his claims for a spot in the final 23.
Veteran duo Cahill and Bresciano started the session with the rest of the squad before moving off and working on their own.
The pair, who were late in arrivals in camp, focused on doing more explosive running as they try to catch up to the workload of the rest of the squad.
Defenders Matthew Spiranovic and Curtis Good again trained on their own away from the main group.
They both started with some stretching and rehab work by Gelis before running a few laps.
But they were able to step things up for the first time, also doing some faster running that required changes in direction around cones.
The pair eventually got to do some work with the ball as well, dribbling in and out of cones as well as some passing and movement with the ball.
Despite some encouraging progress while in Gosford, Good will miss the friendly against Bafana Bafana, while Spiranovic is expected to play some part.
The last seven members of the squad - Mat Ryan, Mitchell Langerak, Josh Kennedy, Oliver Bozanic, Ryan McGowan, Luke Wilkshire and Dario Vidosic – will join the team for the first time in Sydney tonight after ending their club commitments over the weekend.
The entire squad will have an appearance at Westfield Shopping Centre at Pitt St on Thursday.
Send Off the Socceroos
Socceroos vs South Africa, presented by NAB
Monday 26 May 2014 ANZ Stadium, Sydney Kick-off: 7.30pm
Tickets from $30, including public transport. Buy now!
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