The intense training sessions and soaring temperatures have taken some getting used to, but none of the TSG 1899 Hoffenheim squad are complaining at their training camp in South Africa – least of all defender Niklas Süle.
Having missed last year’s mid-season camp with a cruciate ligament injury in his left knee, the 20-year-old is eager to make the most of the “outstanding facilities” available to the Sinsheim club in Rustenburg, where the England national team were based during the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
“I couldn’t take part last year because of my injury, so obviously I’m very happy to be here,” said Süle. “The facilities and hotel are fantastic. We’re among ourselves, there are no distractions and we have everything we need to prepare well for the second half of the campaign. We need to fine-tune our own game and put our foot on the pedal.”
Huub Stevens’ side can ill afford a slow start to the 2015/16 Rückrunde, having ended the first half of the campaign propping up the Bundesliga standings. Süle, though, is confident the training sessions in the searing South African sun – with temperatures reaching 33 degrees Celsius – will go a long way to helping the club climb out of trouble.
“Regardless of whether it's hot or not, it would still be hard work," admitted the German U21 international. "The intensity of the individual sessions is very high, but that’s the way it should be. We’ve got a lot to play for in the second half of the campaign. We have to ensure we’re focused on our upcoming games in the Bundesliga in order to achieve success.”
Tough start to 2016
Süle and Co could not have asked for a more difficult start to 2016, with a home match against Bayer 04 Leverkusen followed by a trip to the Allianz Arena to face FC Bayern München on Matchday 19. The centre-back is adamant Die Kraichgauer can pick up points against anyone in the division, however, insisting they will not roll over in the face of more illustrious opponents.
“I know our first games against Leverkusen and in Munich aren’t exactly easy, but that doesn’t matter," he said. "We have to try and pick up points in every game. I hope we can start enjoying our football again and be successful as a team.”