Heat is on the rest, says Socceroo Wilkinson
Australia's Alex Wilkinson (R) and Ryan McGowan during their friendly football match against South Africa in Sydney on May 26, 2014 - by Peter Parks
But Socceroos defender Alex Wilkinson says all the pressure is on his team's rivals.
"We're more than happy to go out and play with no pressure," Wilkinson Sunday told reporters at the Australian base in the southeastern coastal city of Vitoria.
"There's going to be a lot of pressure on the other three teams in the group to beat us, whereas we can go out and relax and hopefully play some good football and cause some surprises," said the 29-year-old.
He added the stifling heat was toughening the squad up ahead of a Monday friendly with Brazilian second tier side Parana as the squad, facing a cull this week from 27 to a final 23, go through their paces before a Friday friendly with Croatia.
"The heat is something some of the guys aren't used to right now," said Wilkinson, who chortled "I'll tell the boys on the bus" when local reporters suggested the Aussie squad was viewed by Brazilians as handsome.
"Being here two weeks before our first game gives us that chance to do a few tough sessions and get conditioned, which is great because a lot of the teams coming in late won't get that chance," said Wilkinson of Jeonbuk in Korea's K-League.
The former Central Coast Mariners favorite said the players were acclimatizing well in Brazil.
"Obviously, with the heat, it takes its toll. It takes a while to get used to. Give it couple more days and the jet lag will be gone."
On squad competition for a side rated as 1,500-1 to lift the trophy, he added that "a lot of guys are still pushing for positions. Four people will miss out, which will be pretty devastating for them. I just keep my fingers crossed it's not me.
"Six months ago I never would have pictured I'd be here. I count myself very lucky and want to make most of my opportunity," said the defender, who only made his debut in March.
He added what drove him on to make the cut for the final 23 was an awareness that many former top players "missed out by the narrowest of margins" on playing on the top stage in world football.
"It's something you've got to look forward to and realize it could be a once in a lifetime opportunity."
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