South Africa (Reuters) – Pity the Germany players.
Holed up in a luxury, five-star spa and resort surrounded by nothing but scorched fields and red dust, the squad were finally allowed out on Saturday for the first time in two weeks to dress in civilian clothes and enjoy dinner in Pretoria.
Manager Oliver Bierhoff told reporters on Sunday they had let the players out of their World Cup base the previous day for the first time for a social occasion.
“Some of us went for a meal in a restaurant,” he said. “It’s nice to dress in your civvies and go to another place.”
With the sprawling red brick resort situated dozens of miles from the nearest town or even shop, Germany had come prepared for the endless hours they would spend holed up together in their hotel which is styled on French Provence architecture.
Whole rooms have been turned into recreation areas with table football, computer games and DVDs lined up to distract the squad from the tedium but they are still struggling.
“Many of the players, even though we suggested the odd leisure program to them, said they’d rather stay behind and go to the physio,” said Bierhoff.
“Nice as this (place) is, you always meet the same kind of people, meet in the same kind of rooms, eat the same kind of food.”
Even a walk close to the swamp-like Hennops river, which runs through the camp, is out of the question.
“Normally nothing should happen walking there but if you go too close to the river then the iguanas, and they are quite big, can swing their tails and have been known to break several bones. Luckily nothing of that sort has happened yet.”
Despite the boredom, Bierhoff said Germany wanted to stay in South Africa for as long as possible. They play Ghana in their Group D decider on Wednesday after losing their second game in a surprise defeat by Serbia, albeit after being down to 10 men.
(Reporting by Kate Holton, Editing by Ken Ferris)