John Arne Riise is aiming to achieve optimum fitness during Fulham’s tour of Costa Rica as he hopes to hit the ground running at the start of the new Premier League campaign.
The left-back was one of Fulham’s most impressive performances during a comfortable 3-0 win over C.S. Cartagines on Sunday and believes the club’s pre-season preparations have got off to a solid start.
It is always difficult in that first game, but you focus on your fitness and I think we did well. We have had a good pre-season so far. Obviously it is difficult to get over the jet-lag when you first get here, but we are working hard and getting used to everything here. The humidity is hard to train in, but during the match my legs were feeling good and hopefully I’ll just build on that.
The Costa Rica fans were incredible, it was impossible to talk during the warm-up as there was music and banging and shouting. They are here to have fun. I think they are enjoying the fact that a Premier League club is here. They are so friendly to us and the atmosphere so far has been great.
I felt really good in my legs, I felt like I could run all day. But when you are running up and down the flanks it is hard to breathe and recover the oxygen you need. That is the hard part, but it makes it easier when you get back to the UK and start training again as you’re going to feel the benefits.
Manager Martin Jol has already been working hard to strengthen his squad in the close season and Sunday’s game saw Maarten Stekelenburg, Derek Boateng and Fernando Amorebieta make their first appearances for the club. Riise says the new arrivals have all fitted in well and that the squad have tried to make everyone feel at home.
If you speak English then it’s quite easy to come into this group. Obviously Fernando doesn’t, so it’s a bit harder for him but he’ll get used to us and he’ll find we’re a really friendly group. We always take people in and have fun, when we’re on the pitch we are focused on that but off the pitch we have fun together.
The senior players have to give advice to the younger ones and make them feel welcome. As long as they show they are here to work hard and don’t get too big-headed, then they will do well. The atmosphere in the camp is great and we’re all working hard together and trying to make sure that we do better than last year. Obviously we finished in 12th place, but this season we want to start well for the new owner and show what we can do.