Kovac pleased with Doha training camp

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Niko Kovac eased up slightly on the final day of the training camp in Doha. The players got their pulses racing during the warm-up again on Thursday morning, but in comparison to the previous days, it was a more relaxed session as the Bayern coach was aware of what he’d put his squad through. “The boys have been very committed and focused in their work,” praised the 47-year-old.

For Kovac, the week in Qatar has been a complete success. “We’ve put into practice all of the key points that we set out,” added the record champions boss. He’s brought his players up to speed with a total of ten training sessions. While they’ve had to endure the odd training circuit so that they’re in peak condition for the second half of the season, the main focus for Kovac has been on tactical fine-tuning: possession, pressing and quick transitions after losing and winning the ball.

Hasan Salihamidzic, meanwhile, was not wrong when he spoke of the “heavy workload during the training sessions” for the players, who have been given Friday off to recover. Ahead of their warm-up match against Fortuna Düsseldorf in the Telekom Cup on Sunday, Arjen Robben’s injury problem continues to give Kovac a “headache”. The Dutchman has not joined in with any of the group sessions in Doha because of an ongoing thigh issue and is still not fully fit. “With Arjen, if he doesn’t feel 100 per cent then it doesn’t make any sense [to play him].”

Bayern will also be without Franck Ribéry after he tore a hamstring in training on Wednesday evening. The recovering Corentin Tolisso will continue to be given the time he needs to come back from a cruciate ligament tear. The rest of the squad, however, have returned to Munich in good health and must now, as Salihamidzic said, “turn all their focus and concentration to Hoffenheim”. The most important thing, added the FCB sporting director, is “that we start the second half of the season well and give a good performance there”. Bayern have laid the foundations for that in Doha.