TheFA.com's Nicholas Veevers blogs ahead of World Cup clash with Nigeria.
The preparation for Wednesday evening’s game with Nigeria is well underway and the England squad couldn’t have asked for a better base in which to ready themselves for what will no doubt be a physically testing game in the round of 16 of the FIFA U20 World Cup.
Situated in the beautiful green countryside and just a 15-minute drive outside of the city, England are staying along with the Nigerians a the Las Camelias resort, which is a series of chalet-style rooms in separate buildings over a spacious setting with three separate swimming pools, a putting green, pool tables, video games, tennis courts and a mini Futsal-style pitch.
Compared to the high-rise city hotels where the squad have been based over the last fortnight, it’s a welcome change and perhaps a little more relaxing for all concerned at this stage of the competition.
The climate is also more suitable for the players, a little more akin to that of Medellin rather than the baking heat and humidity of Cartagena which even the Mexican players struggled with last Thursday.
It’s a fantastic setting too, surrounded by mountains, banana and plantain trees, as well as the famous Colombian export of coffee for which this region is renowned. As expected, the people here have been friendly and helpful too, something which has been a common theme wherever we have been based so far and has been fully appreciated by all of the players and staff out here.
After training twice at the Estadio San Jose, firstly on Sunday evening when a large crowd of curious locals combined their kite flying with watching the squad in action and getting autographs and photos with the players, the squad will get their first taste of the Estadio Centenario on Tuesday morning.
Ahead of all games in the competition, teams are allotted a 45-minute training session at the stadium in which they will be playing so this will be their first experience at the home of Deportes Quindio and also a venue known as ‘The Garden Of America’.
Following the training, Head Coach Brian Eastick
and captain Jason Lowe
will face a press conference at the stadium before the final plans will be put into place for the game back at the team hotel before it’s into action again after a well-needed five day break.
Nigeria were the top scorers in the group round of the World Cup and have previously played two games in Armenia, so they will certainly offer a threat and be more familiar with the territory but with the Young Lions having seen off the likes of Argentina and Mexico without conceding a single goal in their own group, it promises to be an intriguing match and as the old adage goes, something has to give.
England have a couple of injury worries to contend with ahead of the game, but the team unit and organisation so far has been strong and Eastick and his technical staff will be confident that they can find a solution for the game no matter what selection issues there are.The match kicks-off at 5pm local time, so 11pm BST and will be shown live on Eurosport and FIFA.com.You can follow how things go right here on TheFA.com and FATV, with more video interviews and features to come over the campaign, so keep your eyes peeled.
For more instant updates of what’s going on here, follow @thefadotcom on Twitter or even myself on @NVivas79
Until next time,