Low-key Australians kick off World Cup arrivals
Australian national football team players are seen on a bus upon their arrival to the host city of Vitoria, Espirito Santo, Brazil, on May 28, 2014, ahead of the FIFA World Cup - by William West
About 100 Brazilian fans were waiting at Vitoria airport on Wednesday but the Socceroos, arriving in darkness, went straight from their plane to a bus with blacked-out windows and were whisked away to their hotel.
Dozens of heavily armed riot police were also at the airport, with authorities apparently fearing a repeat of protests which have marred the tournament's build-up.
Fans trying to catch a glimpse of the squad, who were wearing suits, rushed into the street to wave as they set out on the short drive to their town-centre hotel.
Australia, who are playing their third straight World Cup, have their first match on June 13 against Chile. They will also face Spain and the Netherlands in a difficult Group A.
They are ranked at 59, the lowest of the tournament, with one columnist remarking "the bookmakers regard Australia's World Cup possibilities as something worse than a snowball's survival chances in hell".
But midfielder Tommy Oar said Ange Postecoglou's side were using their lowly status as motivation.
"We are the underdogs. It will be a good opportunity for the Australian team to surprise, so this is all very exciting. And being in the 'soccer country' is an extra motivation, of course," Oar said in a statement released by FIFA.
"We've been training for the last few days and things have gone well. We still have some two more weeks to keep on training, so I think we will be well-prepared for the World Cup."
The next teams expected in Brazil are Croatia and Iran on June 3. The last arrivals are South Korea, Ghana and Portugal on June 11, the day before the opening match.
Meanwhile hosts Brazil opened their base camp on Monday and, after undergoing medical checks, took to the practice pitch for the first time on Wednesday.
Brazil has been hit by a wave of strikes and protests in recent weeks sparked by public anger over the more than $11 billion being spent on the tournament in a country with urgent education, health and transport needs.
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