No pain, no gain for Hoffenheim's Volland in Johannesburg
Johannesburg - TSG 1899 Hoffenheim forward has called on his side to end their nine-day tour of Johannesburg on a high note in Friday's friendly with South African favourites Kaizer Chiefs (kick-off 19:25 CET/ 18:25 GMT).
The steamy conditions took their toll in the 1-1 friendly draw with University Pretoria five days ago, but the Sinsheimers' 22-year-old super talent says he wouldn't have it any other way.
'We're really fit'
"Training camps are always hard work, but come the end of the season you can always tell we're really fit," Volland told the club's own TV channel achtzehn99tv. "You could see that at the end of the Hinrunde. We were able to put the pedal to the floor for the last few games, especially when we picked up six points during the Englische Woche. That's when you realise how important these camps are." The heat, the humidity and even the altitude have taken quite some getting used to for a group of players far more accustomed to the continental climate typical of south-west Germany. Highs of 26°C are expected in Johannesburg later today, while back home in Baden-Württemburg, locals are bracing themselves for another sub-zero weekend.
South Africa's FC Bayern
"Whether it's summer or winter, you can't ever think a training camp is going to be easy," Volland continued. "It's extremely hard work. The game in Pretoria was tough. It was around five o'clock and the air was thin. You could see we put everything into it. We know what we have to do better, what we still want to work on and put into practice against Kaizer Chiefs." Known as the 'Glamour Boys' of South African football, Friday's opponents should provide Volland and the gang a true yardstick of exactly where they're at, 16 days ahead of their Rückrunde opener at FC Augsburg. The Chiefs won their third league title in 2012/13, with Hoffenheim head coach Markus Gisdol recently labelling the Soweto-based outfit "the FC Bayern München of South Africa".
'A really special game'
Kaizer Chiefs' megastar status hasn't gone unnoticed by Volland either. The club are reported to have over 16 million fans nationwide and play their home games at the architecturally stunning FNB Stadium - the 94,736-capacity venue of the 2010 FIFA World Cup final no less. "We're really looking forward to it," admitted the Germany international. "It's a really special game for the whole of Africa in a World Cup stadium. We've been training two or even three times a day in preparation. It's been really intense, but it's the only way we'll be ready."