The Roar Hyundai A-League squad has powered through a Brisbane heatwave at the weekend to impressively complete some of the hardest training sessions in the club’s history.
The gruelling program has been designed to ensure the squad is at peak fitness for the second half of the season in which the Roar will play up to three matches a week as the Champions return to the AFC Asian Champions League next month.
Temperatures in Brisbane have hovered around the mid-30s for more than a week with high humidity making it feel even hotter. The brutal tropical summer heat has also impacted AFC Asian Cup games in Brisbane, including the Socceroos’ loss against South Korea.
With Roar medical and football staff keeping a close eye on hydration, nutrition and workloads, the squad is in the midst of an extended program that has included double sessions on some days and high intensity drills that not only test fitness levels but also focus on decision-making under pressure.
And despite the sweat and fatigue, there’s been good humour among the Roar squad.
“It’s even hotter than Costa Rica,” said Roar striker Jean Carlos Solorzano, who is used to training and playing in oppressive heat in Central America.
And after breaking his long goal drought with a brace against Central Coast Mariners last month, Solorzano has been leading many drills at Roar training as he works hard to get back to peak fitness.
“It’s tough but if it gets me fitter and helps me scores goals, I’m not complaining,” he said.
Roar‘s international marquee Thomas Broich is back training after a month on the sidelines following ankle surgery and says the heat has tested the entire squad.
“It’s money in the bank as you Aussies say,” the German said. “Our reward will be when we are a lot fitter than our opponents in the second half of the season.”
Defender Shane Stefanutto grew up in tropical Cairns but says the humidity over the past week in Brisbane has made for some of the toughest training conditions he could remember.
“We are working hard as a group and supporting each other,” Stefanutto said.
“Everyone is putting in hard as we know there will be challenges ahead in the second half of the season and this training gives us the perfect base to rise to those challenges.”
The Roar returns to Hyundai A-League action with a Suncorp Stadium match against Wellington Phoenix on Monday, 2 February (7pm kick-off). Their AFC Asian Champions League campaign begins at the end of February followed by two matches in March and April and another in May.
Roar Director of Football Ken Stead said the intensive training during the three-week break for the AFC Asian Cup was designed to take the Roar players to a higher level of preparation before the coming heavy schedule of matches.
“We make no apologies for pushing them hard, but they also are being closely monitored and there is plenty of rest in between the tough sessions. We want to start the second half of the season strongly and build from there,’’ he said.
Roar interim coach Frans Thijssen has lived and coached in the Middle East and said he had not experienced such sustained high-humidity as Brisbane has dished up in recent days.
“We have tested the players in difficult conditions and they have impressed me with how they have completed everything we have asked of them,’’ he said.
“We all now just want to get back on the field and playing again.”