There will be no ample rest for the Flames ahead of the 2019 African Cup of Nations (Afcon) Group B return leg qualifier against Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions as they will only have a day’s rest before the match.
The Flames face Cameroon in the qualifiers first leg on October 12 at Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo in Yaoundé, Cameroon before the return leg set four days later on October 16 at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre.
The Flames are expected to arrive home on October 14, meaning they will only rest the following day ahead of the match day.
Coach Ronny van Geneugden (RVG) has since called for careful planning to beat fatigue and jetlag which is associated with sleep loss, headaches and dizziness.
“Basically, it will be a 24 hours trip. It’s either we will fly without stopping over to spend a night at a hotel or we will just come straight to Malawi. Either way, what is important is the recovery process after a match and such a long trip.
“The effects of such travel arrangements are not felt immediately on the day of your arrival, but rather after a day or two, that’s when you really feel drained and exhausted—and that will be on the day of the game. That is what will be a challenge for us,” he said.
The coach said there is need to have a proper recovery plan after the first leg.
“It’s tough. As a technical panel and the FA, we need to have a good plan on how to deal with this situation. We do not want this to become an excuse if we do not do well at home against Cameroon,” he said.
Asked what would be the solution, RVG said: “There are several things we can do to minimise jetlag. In Europe, we use cold water therapy or ‘ice bath’ in which players are submerged in ice to help in blood circulation. A special diet will also be crucial. It also calls for the FA to come up with better travelling arrangements for the team.”
Flames captain Limbikani Mzava said it is always a challenge whenever faced with such a situation.
“When we played Guinea, we found ourselves in a similar situation and it was tough. Hopefully, there will be a way out,” he said.
While the Flames have to fight jetlag, Cameroon are expected to arrive much earlier using a chartered plane, according to Cameroon Football Federation website www.fecafoot.com.
Soccer analyst Charles Nyirenda said playing at Bingu National Stadium (BNS) in Lilongwe would mitigate the situation.
“The team’s flight will land at Kamuzu International Airport in Lilongwe. Yet we want to have the players travel by road to Blantyre when we are complaining of jetlag and fatigue?” he wondered.
FAM general secretary Alfred Gunda was not available for comment as he was not yet back from Egypt where he attended a Confederation of African Football (CAF) extraordinary general meeting. n