Australia touch down in South Africa

JOHANNESBURG - Australia's World Cup squad touched down in Johannesburg on Wednesday, becoming the first team to arrive in South Africa for next month's showpiece tournament.

Coach Pim Verbeek told reporters the early arrival would give the team more time to acclimitise to the high altitude of some of the host cities.

"For everybody, this is a new experience to train and to play in altitude," he said at Johannesburg's OR Tambo airport.

"So we have to find out how it works and what we can do the upcoming days, we still have work to do, but that's why we have 15, 16 days to prepare ourselves."

Australia, in their third World Cup, play their first match against Germany on June 13 in coastal city Durban before moving to Rustenburg - at 1,300 metres above sea level - to play highly-rated African side Ghana. Their final match in Group D is on June 23 against Serbia.

FIFA's 20th ranked side have based themselves near Johannesburg and will face Denmark in a friendly on June 1.

Verbeek, who served as assistant to Guus Hiddink with South Korea in 2002 and to Dick Advocaat at the 2006 World Cup, said he should have all but one of his squad available to train on Thursday.

"We're looking forward to starting tomorrow with two training sessions to find out how it is, and how the fields are and how it is to train under these circumstances, so that's the plan for the upcoming days," he said.

"So tomorrow I have my full selection on the field, maybe one player that needs a few days longer, but for the rest tomorrow everyone is here."

Brazil, one of the favourites for the tournament, which starts on June 11, arrive early on Thursday.

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