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Socceroos fly home in style in chartered jet

Socceroos defender Trent Sainsbury sports the white glasses.
Socceroos defender Trent Sainsbury sports the white glasses.

IF the Socceroos fail to score the required win over Honduras on Wednesday night to qualify for the World Cup, they won't be able blame their preparations for the second leg.

About two hours after their 0-0 first leg draw against the Hondurans at the unforgettable Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano on Saturday morning, the Socceroos were at the San Pedro Sula airport ready to board the chartered Qantas flight back to Sydney.

The Airbus 330 plane can hold up to 300 people but on this flight there were just 60 passengers and 12 staff, including the three pilots.

Nothing was left to chance in terms of details. It's understood the total cost of the exercise was $900,000, with Football Federation Australia paying all bar $150,000 that came from FIFA.

The Socceroos squad, as well as coach Ange Postecoglou, sat in business class at the front of the plane.

Physio and massage tables were set up at the opposite end of the aircraft, with the players getting regular treatment throughout the flight's duration.

About the only hitch was a volcano in Mexico that required the pilots to fly a slightly longer route to get to Honolulu for the scheduled stopover of at least 90 minutes.

In terms of time, it was only an extra half an hour added to the first leg, which took nine hours and 20 minutes.

The Honolulu to Sydney leg was due to take about 10 hours, with the plane due to land in the NSW capital about noon on Sunday. The time difference between Sydney and San Pedro Sula is 17 hours.

Players were given specifics on when they should eat and sleep, with some donning special white glasses that were lit up to ensure they stayed awake and weren't overly affected by jet lag.

This was in severe contrast to the Honduras squad, who travelled to Sydney on a regular commercial flight and weren't due to arrive in Sydney until Monday.

The Socceroos left for the airport at San Pedro Sula just two hours after the game ended.
The Socceroos left for the airport at San Pedro Sula just two hours after the game ended.

 

Also on the Socceroos chartered flight were members of the Australian media who had been in San Pedro Sula for the first leg, as well as Qantas staff and FFA chief executive officer David Gallop, whose stay in Honduras totalled less than 35 hours.

Socceroos defender Trent Sainsbury said the chartered flight was about a "whole lot of recovery" as well as a time to reflect on the first leg.

"We'll assess the game, between us we'll have a little chat, a massage when we need one," Sainsbury said.

"Credit to the FFA for organising it for us."

Socceroos skipper Mile Jedinak said his squad were used to long trips and preparing properly, but that there was no room for error with this planning due to the prize of the World Cup spot being on the line.

"We do the journey all the time - I don't know about them (Honduras) doing the journey all the time," Jedinak said.

"It's a big 48 hours in preparation. It's about getting the right rest and trying to adapt to the time difference as quick as possible."

The Socceroos organised a similar charted flight from Uruguay 12 years ago after the first leg of their 2006 World Cup qualifying playoff.

It proved decisive, with Australia overturning a 1-0 first-leg loss to qualify for their first World Cup in 32 years.

Topics:  honduras socceroos world cup playoffs