Confederations Cup Diary: Mexico's preparation glitches, howling in Kazan
Mexico endured technical and logistical woes as their preparations for Thursday's Confederations Cup semi-final against Germany in Sochi.
Meanwhile, the tournament geared up for its Kazan farewell by putting on some dancing with a difference.
Find these and other pet projects in our latest diary instalment.
TECHNICAL TROUBLES TICKLE CHICHARITO
Mexico's official pre-match news conference at Fisht Stadium got off to a bumpy start as the audio feed to video journalists at the back of the room packed in.
Javier Hernandez's opening answer was interrupted by shouts of anguish from the camera operators and everything ground to a halt. Well, everything but the Bayer Leverkusen striker's boyish enthusiasm for farce.
"I'm not repeating it all," he beamed. "Presume we will do our best and try to win the game."
The source of the problem was a "split box failure" - which sounded both unintelligible and very painful to these ears - and Hernandez and boss Juan Carlos Osorio were invited to leave the room if they wished.
Cue more chuckles from the ex-Manchester United striker. Not a bit of it. He was having a whale of a time.
Hernandez, Osorio told they can leave stage while the "technician" gets to work. They're quite comfortable. Chicharito thinks it's hilarious-- Dom Farrell (@DomFarrell1986) June 28, 2017
ADLER AGGRO FOR MEXICO BUS
Germany and Mexico elected to stage their open training sessions in the early evening to match up with Thursday's kick-off time.
El Tri returned to their training base on the other side of Adler in a window marginally before Germany kicked off their last bit of fine tuning.
FIFA laid on a media bus for reporters to make both sessions, the only problem being this was more efficient than Mexico's own mode of transport.
The resulting scene was the assembled gaggle hanging around staring at an empty training pitch until the majority of the non-Mexican contingent hoped back on board for the hopefully more punctual Germans. But, call off the search party - Osorio and his men arrived eventually
ONE MORE TASTE OF PARKLIFE FOR THE WORLD CHAMPIONS
Of course, the world champions were impeccably punctual, kicking balls around merrily before their scheduled 6.15pm local start time.
Joachim Low's young, vibrant squad have shunned the option of a final practice at Fisht Stadium for each of their three games here, instead striding out at the Park Arena - a grand name for a football pitch boasting a solitary temporary stand in front of a theme park.
Nevertheless, with the blazing sun dropping low in the sky and with the sound of Black Sea waves audible, it was fair to say you would be hard pressed to find a more pleasant spot for an evening game of two-touch.
DANCES WITH WOLVES SIGNS OFF FIFA FORUM
FIFA has been running its Football for Hope forum in Kazan over recent days, an admirable venture aimed at promoting the use of the sport as a tool for social development.
Fatma Samoura, FIFA's secretary general, closed proceedings on Wednesday to a polite and warm reception from the attendees. All fairly standard so far, then.
That was until the organisers' "big surprise": Zabivaka, the official mascot for the Confederations Cup, came waltzing in from a side door (a little close to Omnisport's representative for comfort) before strolling up on stage and dancing with the delegates, including Samoura.
It certainly brought some (confused) smiles to the faces of those attending but we should, at least, welcome the chance to see a more human side from those controlling the world's favourite game. Even when they're dancing with people dressed as wolves.
DOG DAYS IN SOCHI
In Sochi, Omnisport's video team came across a four-legged friend of a more authentic variety.
The familiar showbusiness warning to never work with children or animals will have been at the forefront of their minds when a chat with tournament volunteers was interrupted by a wandering dog.
But a little playful tail wagging later and our friendly intruder was on his way. Mutt ado about nothing.