Cape Town - A trip to South Africa during the off-season sounds like the perfect winter getaway, but for VfB Stuttgart, sunset safaris will be the least of their concerns as they undergo preparations for the second half of the 2013/14 Bundesliga campaign.
Nose to the grindstone
With the squad now complete, albeit without Ibrahima Traore, following the late arrivals of certain players, the Swabian side undertook their first training session just outside of Cape Town on Wednesday morning following what, for some, was a 26-hour journey south.
“The journey took more than a full day, but that’s all part of it” explained midfielder Moritz Leitner talking to vfb.de. However, though the trip to their ultimate destination may have been a gruelling one, it did little to delay the start of VfB’s mid-season preparations, as the second group of players to arrive took to the training ground within a few hours of arriving at the team’s hotel. Leitner for one was just looking forward to “kicking the ball about a bit”.
Head of strategic marketing for the German Football League Association, Steffen Busch, referred to VfB as an “important ambassador for the Bundesliga”, but while Stuttgart are hoping to show Germany’s top flight in a positive light, their priority remains ensuring they’re raring to go come the start of the Rückrunde. “It really doesn’t make any difference whether the training camp is in South Africa or in Germany,” said Leitner. “We are here to work and get prepared for the remainder of the season.”
“Makes quite an impact”
Away from the football pitch though, South Africa has already left a lasting impression on the 21-year-old. “It was clear to see that there is extreme poverty in certain areas but also that there are some very beautiful houses and buildings,” admitted Leitner. “It’s all makes quite an impact and I would be very interested in getting a closer look at certain things.”
Stuttgart’s first friendly pits them against Brazilian side Vasco da Gama on January 9, 2014 19:00 CET, with further encounters set to take place on January 11 and 14 against PEC Zwolle and local outfit Ajax Cape Town respectively.