Dubai - The focus for Borussia Mönchengladbach switched from training to explaining on Saturday afternoon, as this year's Deutsche Fußball Liga (DFL) ambassadors took part in the first press conference of their week-long visit.
Praise across the board
The event, organised by DFL broadcast partner Dubai Sports Channel, was held at the Meydan hotel, where the Foals are based. Among those taking part alongside head coach Lucien Favre, sporting director Max Eberl and skipper were Majid Al Marri, Dubai's director of marketing and tourism, Dubai Sports Channel programme director Abdelkader Zitouni, Jörg Daubitzer, the managing director of DFL Sports Enterprises and Meydan hotels regional marketing and sales director Craig Senior.
Thanking all those who had made the trip possible, Lucien Favre said, "We had our first training session today and the pitch is in really excellent condition. The facilities and conditions here are first-rate." Max Eberl was similarly fulsome, noting, "It's an honour and a privilege to be representing the DFL here in Dubai. We have a vital season run-in ahead of us and we can prepare optimally for it here.“
For Filip Daems, on his first trip to the Emirate on the Persian Gulf, the first impressions have likewise been highly favourable. "I've racked up quite a few training camps over the course of my career, but I've rarely experienced conditions as good as these – whether it's the hotel, the training pitch or the weather," the Belgian defensive veteran enthused.
"One of the world's top leagues"
Majid Al Marri spoke of his delight at his office having "persuaded Borussia to pitch up in Dubai for the first time." Abdelkader Zitouni noted that, "The Bundesliga is one of the world's top leagues and is enjoying ever-increasing popularity throughout the region - which makes us all the happier to have a top team with us here in Borussia Mönchengladbach."
Expanding on the latter point Jörg Daubitzer said, "Borussia's visit and the broadcasting of their friendlies against Eintracht Frankfurt and Hamburger SV in 24 countries across the Middle East and north Africa will help make the German game even more popular here."
Training under way
Prior to the conference, Favre took his charges through their paces in a fairly easy-going session at the Meydan Area training facility. , who needed a couple of stitches for a shin injury picked up in Friday's session at the Borussia Park, was fit to train with the rest of the squad, while Mike Hanke and Martin Stranzl - both still recovering from a bout of flu - contented themselves with jogging a few laps around the ground.
Everyone else got their first taste of a pitch "in absolutely top-notch condition" (Favre) and further practice sessions are on the agenda for Saturday evening and Sunday morning. In the afternoon, Gladbach will either run out against a local team or put in some more training as their visit gets into full swing.