Orlando/Frankfurt - 1. FC Köln can look back on a highly successful winter tour to Florida when they return to Germany on Monday to continue their preparation for the season’s resumption at Hamburger SV on 31 January.
Two good performances
“We’ve been good ambassadors for German football while we’ve been here, and that was important for us,” reflected head coach Peter Stöger, whose side are due to land back in Germany on Monday. “It was a great training camp for us, and winning the Florida Cup was good for our image, brand and confidence."
Indeed, of the four clubs involved in the inaugural Florida Cup, it was the Billy Goats that gave the best account of themselves. They secured wins over SC Corinthians Paulista (1-0) and Fluminense FC (3-2) to eventually lift the trophy in Jacksonville on Saturday.
“We were the underdogs here but we managed to give a good account of ourselves in both games,” surmised Stöger, whose side even succeeded in getting one over their Rhineland rivals Bayer 04 Leverkusen, who only managed a win and a defeat against the Brazilian duo.
'We were here to work'
Crucially for the Austrian tactician, his squad return home with a clean bill of health after they were able to train “intensively with great facilities and really good conditions. The players have all stayed fit and they’ve done a really good job,” added the 48-year-old.
Midfielder Daniel Halfar, on the scoresheet in the win against Fluminense, echoed his coach’s sentiments. “The training camp was really tough, but we were able to train hard twice a day. We had a lot of special moments here - the NBA game we saw was brilliant and we had a great time at Universal Studios. We were here to work, though, and that side of things went well. We’ve got no fresh injuries so we can be really pleased.”
Optimistic for the Rückrunde
It seems their trip to the Sunshine State struck a perfect balance between business and pleasure, and captain Matthias Lehmann is delighted with the current team spirit among the group. “Our togetherness is really special. The squad is completely intact and it’s fun being a part of this team.”
The skipper and his team-mates will be back in training on Wednesday having had Tuesday off to rest and recuperate, before the hard work starts again ahead of that trip to the Imtech Arena at the end of the month. That game can’t come soon enough for 1. FC Köln.