NEW Socceroos boss Bert van Marwijk has taken his first training session after taking over ahead of the 2018 World Cup as Australia prepare for international friendlies against Norway and Colombia.
Training in Oslo ahead of Saturday morning’s game against Norway – live on Fox Sports 503 from 3.30am AEDT – Dimi Petratos, Andrew Nabbout and Aleksandar Susnjar met the squad for the first time.
Just four players absent – with Tomi Juric and James Troisi restricted to laps and Tom Rogic and Matt Jurman yet to arrive in camp – as the Dutchman addressed his team for the first time on the field, where he also demonstrated a different style to predecessor Ange Postecoglou.
“It’s hovering around 2 degrees when the Bert van Marwijk era officially got underway,” said Fox Sports’ man on the ground from Oslo Daniel Garb.
“The Dutchman took his first training session as Socceroos coach alongside his assistant coach and son-in-law Mark van Bommel.
“He was quite hands on was Van Marwijk, certainly more so than his predecessor Ange Postecoglou as he tries to formulate a system and a game plan for his players just three months to go until the World Cup.”
By contrast, Postecoglou acted as an ever-present observer during sessions, bar for specific tactical exercises – with assistant coaches Ante Milicic, Peter Cklamovski and Josep Gombau in charge of organisation and drills.
But with time lacking, Van Marwijk’s hands-on approach even extended to setting out the cones as he insisted quick ball movement from his players in their first session to prepare for the World Cup.
Garb added in his report from training for Fox Sports News: “For a first up session it was relatively intense and [Van Marwijk’s] constant message was to move the ball quickly – this was the theme of his first Socceroos session.
“There will be no easing up as well, he says he’s confident in this group of players and their ability to perform the tactical plan he wants.
“He says he’s confident at getting through the group of France, Denmark and Peru. The only thing he says he’s up against is time. This training camp will be critical with getting these players up to speed with what he wants with the first friendly in Norway on Saturday morning Australian time.”
Two players vying for starting spots for the two March games are Josh Risdon and Aziz Behich, with Van Marwijk expected to return to a 4-2-3-1 formation.
“It’s going to be competitive this week in training,” Risdon said in camp.
“Everyone is going to want to play these two games to make a good first impression.
“That’s good for the team. Training will be sharp and get us ready for the games.”
Behich added, speaking about the Norway and Colombia games: “I think they’re going to be a great test for us and I think we’re going to be in good shape leading into the World Cup.
“We’re going to go into each game to win. That’s why we play.
“We’ve got a good group, I think all the boys are playing at high levels, and there’s no reason why we can’t get the job done in these two games.”