Roos touch down Russia as focus turns to France
THE Socceroos have landed safely in the Russian city of Kazan, their home base and site of their World Cup opener with France.
An early start had Bert van Marwijk's side safely down in the Tatarstan capital at lunch, in time for a cultural greeting and light training duties.
Australia arrive in Russia on the back of two straight friendly wins, the latest being a 2-1 injury-time defeat of Hungary in Budapest.
They are basing themselves at the Trudovye Rezervy Stadium, home to Russian ice hockey champions Ak Bars Kazan, otherwise known as the Snow Leopards.
Football Federation Australia also successfully petitioned FIFA to stay at the facility, which was not one of the organising committee's recommended training bases.
They hope the live-in venue, complete with elite medical and recovery facilities, can be an advantage.
While France are basing themselves an hour northwest of Moscow and will need to travel for the opening match on June 16, the Socceroos will need to take only a 15-minute bus trip across town.
That wasn't planned; Australia had locked in Kazan as a home away from home well before the World Cup draw in December.
As one of three teams - as well as Colombia and Japan - to base themselves in the Volga River port city, the Socceroos hope for a degree of home support in the crowd on match day.
That support was evident on Sunday, when dancers performed a traditional Tatarstan welcome.
They also served up 'chak-chak' - a fried honey cake with almonds traditional to the region - which was well received by those game enough to try.
An open training session for fans on Monday afternoon is expected to draw thousands - which could be the moment that World Cup fever hits the Socceroos.
Australia round out their group stage commitments with matches against Denmark on June 21 in nearby Samara and Peru on June 26 in Sochi's Fisht Olympic Stadium.