'We're here to win it,' says Socceroos star
SOCCEROOS defender Milos Degenek insists belief in the squad is such that they will begin their Confederations Cup campaign with overall victory the unapologetic aim.
The tough nut says the Aussies are not in Russia simply to "swap a few jerseys with big players" appearing for their more fancied opponents.
The team on Friday took part in their first training session since arriving in Sochi, where they will face heavyweights Germany on Monday (1am Tuesday AEST), with the team eager to get on with the business of the competition.
Before flying out, coach Ange Postecoglou talked up Australia's chances of reaching the final. And Degenek was keen to echo those sentiments.
"The boss has the right to say [Australia are a chance to win the competition] and I believe in that as well," said Degenek.
"We're here to win it. We're not here to have fun, experience Russia and its beauty - we're here to stay here until July 2 [the date of the final].
Midfielder Jackson Irvine is no less ambitious, despite pessimism from some external quarters after the recent 4-0 friendly defeat to Brazil, a match in which Australia performed well for periods, but were undone by individual errors and a lack of cohesion while attempting to give game time to as many players as possible.
"Going into a tournament with eight teams, if you're not here to try and win it, what's the point?" Irvine said.
"There's three [group] games and anything is possible. We believe in our ability.
"People look at the result the other day and say why come out and say you're trying to win a tournament. But changes were made within the squad and within the game itself that disrupted the flow."
A opening match against the world champions gives Australia an early test, but also an opportunity to back up the bullish rhetoric.
Joachim Low has rested a number of his big name players, with the likes of Mesut Ozil, Toni Kroos and Thomas Muller not selected.
With Manuel Neuer, Leroy Sane and Mario Gotze also missing out through injury, only three members of the side that won the 2014 World Cup and seven uncapped players are part of their 23 man squad.
"I don't think they've brought an understrength team," insisted Degenek. "They could bring another three or four teams and it would be still the same.
"They're missing some of their bigger players but that doesn't change much. They've got the same mentality, the German mentality which is a very good one."
They also have in Sandro Wanger, a dangerous striker in hot form, looking to force his way in to a regular starting place in the side. At 29 Wagner is something of a late international bloomer, but helped himself to a hat-trick against San Marino this week in his competitive debut, after top scoring in the Bundesliga in the last calendar year for Hoffenheim.
Degenek, who played his formative years in Germany before moving to Japan in January, will be tasked with helping neutralise his threat, but is unfazed by the challenge.
"I don't know him personally but I know him as a player," Degenek says. "He's scored a fair few goals in the Bundesliga this last year. [But] individuals don't win tournaments, teams win tournaments."
The entire Socceroos squad took part in their opening training session, though Robbie Kruse did some light work separate from the rest of the squad as a precaution after picking up a minor knock against Brazil match. He is, however, expected to join full training from Sunday and be in contention for selection against Germany.