Egypt Coach, Hector Cuper To Put Ramadan Measures In Place Ahead Of 2018 World Cup In Russia
Well-traveled and much experienced as a soccer coach, Hector Cuper is facing a new obstacle when it comes to preparing Egypt for this year’s World Cup.
The tournament in Russia starts will commence on the final day of Ramadan, the holy month that requires Muslims to fast from sunrise to sunset.
Egypt will play their world cup opening game a day later, on June 15, against Uruguay.
“The Egyptian Football Association has hired specialists to help me and the players during the fasting month of Ramadan,” Cuper said at a news conference.
“We will organise and monitor their eating and sleeping and hope that this will not affect them badly.
“It may be a problem to the coaches because the players will stop eating from sunrise until sunset, so it will not be easy during training but that is to do with the religion and I can’t prevent them from observing Ramadan,” Cuper, who hails from Argentina, added.
Cuper says he respects his players’ beliefs and will support them during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
“I respect Islam and all religions”, the 62-year-old said.
Egypt, a record seven-time African champion, will also face host Russia and Saudi Arabia in Group A at the World Cup. Cuper, an Argentine who has coached extensively around his native country and in Europe, took over as national team coach in 2015.
Cuper said he was optimistic about the matches and the team’s preparation for Russia.
“We will play two friendly matches, and one of them is against Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo. As far as preparations go, that is very good for us.”
In comments published Wednesday, Cuper said it would be up to the individual players to decide.
“Players of the national squad are absolutely free to fast and we cannot interfere in this because of my full respect for all faiths,” Cuper said, adding nutrition experts have been retained to advise the players on how to cope with fasting and sleeping during Ramadan.
In Russia, the Egyptian team will be based in Chechnya. Team officials have said they are happy to be in Grozny because it is a Muslim city where the players would be comfortable.
“I endure a great deal of hardship when I am fasting, but I prefer to honor my religious duty as long as I am able to cope,’ said Egypt defender Saad Sameer, who plays for Cairo club Al-Ahly. “I will fast the month of Ramadan, regardless of what the team decides.”
Another Egypt player, Zamalek midfielder Tareq Hamed, said he would listen to any decision reached by the team’s management on whether to fast.
“I hope we do well in the World Cup and not be distracted by issues like fasting,” said Hamed, adding he and many other players have in the past played matches while fasting.