Socceroos settle into Russian Cup base

Ben McKay
Socceroo goalkeeper Mat Ryan is impressed with Australia's base facilities in Kazan

The Socceroos are relishing the close confines of their World Cup base, settling into their Kazan training facility.

An early start on Sunday had Bert van Marwijk's side safely down in the Tatarstan capital by lunch, in time for a cultural greeting and light training duties.

In Kazan, they are basing themselves at the home of Russian ice hockey champions Ak Bars, otherwise known as the Snow Leopards.

A top-quality pitch next door - the Trudovye Rezervy Stadium - is less than 100 metres walk away, leading Trent Sainsbury to liken it to a youth camp.

"It reminds me a lot of Canberra, the AIS, where I had some of my fondest memories," he said.

"I'm enjoying it because I'm with the boys pretty much 24/7 and one of the things I look forward to when I come into camp is hanging around with the boys as much as possible."

Goalkeeper Mat Ryan said: "It's got everything that we need here and much more."

"The gym is really big, (you could) maybe even lose a couple of guys in there.

"The recovery centre, the chill out room ... it's all state of the art stuff. Everything is in great order and everything is running smoothly."

Football Federation Australia also successfully petitioned FIFA to stay at the facility, which was not one of the organising committee's recommended training bases.

They hope the live-in venue, complete with elite medical and recovery facilities, can be an advantage.

"It brings a sense of calmness and comfort to it, the thought of not having to travel so far, getting on the bus. The more homely you can make it and stuff you have to keep yourself occupied, it's what your looking for," Ryan said.

France are basing themselves an hour northwest of Moscow and will need to travel for the opening match on June 16.

That advantage wasn't planned; Australia had locked in Kazan as a home away from home well before the World Cup draw in December.

As one of three teams - as well as Colombia and Japan - to base themselves in the Volga River port city, the Socceroos also hope for a degree of home support in the crowd on match day.

That support was evident on Sunday, when dancers performed a traditional Tatarstan welcome.

They also served up 'chak-chak' - a fried honey cake with almonds traditional to the region - which was well received by those game enough to try.

An open training session for fans on Monday afternoon is expected to draw thousands.