Coach Nabil Maaloul Confesses Faking Tunisia Injuries

Published June 6th, 2018 - 09:02 GMT
 Tunisia coach Nabil Maaloul has admitted that it was his plan to make sure his player's ate during their recent Fifa World Cup warm-up games
Tunisia coach Nabil Maaloul has admitted that it was his plan to make sure his player's ate during their recent Fifa World Cup warm-up games

During the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast (don't eat or drink) from sunrise to sunset. There's a prescribed time each day for when they are allowed to eat and drink again.

This time occurred during Tunisia's matches against Portugal and Turkey.

The injury strategy was executed during these international friendlies and involved goalkeeper Mouez Hassen feigning injury to allow stoppages in which several players would dash to the touchline to drink water and eat dates.

Both matches ended in 2-2 draws and coincided with iftar, an evening meal at sunset.

Against Portugal, Hassen went down appearing to be injured in the 58th minute, allowing his fasting teammates to run to the sideline to eat and drink together with the technical staff.

The Turkey match which had a similar kickoff time saw the Tunisians replicating their trick, with Hassen the leader again but this time going down in the 49th minute.

“I had prepared it,” Maaloul was quoted as saying by ESPN.

“We prepared it because a huge amount of players were fasting. I told him (Hassen) to fall down to let the players break the fast. Us staff too.

"The players have the right to do what they have to do. It’s our religion. It’s difficult to stay 16 hours without water, without drinking, especially if you have two training sessions. But we adapted.”

The well-orchestrated tactic grabbed the attention of the football and there is massive interest to see if the Tunisians will do the same in Saturday’s friendly against Spain which kicks off at the same time as the previous two matches.

However, just like his Egyptian counterpart Hector Cuper, Maaloul is concerned that fasting could take a toll on his players after the end of Ramadan, during the World Cup tournament where they tackle England, Belgium and Panama in their group.

“The problem isn’t now,” Maaloul said.

“The problem is after Ramadan. The muscles are going to be a little tired. I hope it's going to work out.”

Preparations for the World Cup this year fall under Ramadan which began on May 17, and is due to end on June 14, the day when the World Cup kicks off in Russia.

This has mostly affected teams like Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco, Iran and Saudi Arabia who have a majority of Muslim players.

At the last World Cup edition in Brazil, Ramadan ran during the tournament too, but impressively fasting Algerian players managed to stretch eventual champions Germany into extra-time during the last-16 round match which they however narrowly lost 2-1.

By Michael Madyira

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