Dr. Charles Odame-Ankrah
Are Ghana and Egypt victims beyond just the poor performance of the team in general?
As the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) unfolds in the vibrant footballing landscape of Côte d’Ivoire, foreign-based players find themselves facing not only the fierce competition on the pitch but also the formidable challenge of extreme temperatures. The scorching heat of this West African nation poses a unique test for athletes accustomed to different climates, bringing a new dimension to the tournament dynamics.
I have seen cooling off breaks during the games and extreme sweating of the players which leads to fatigue. Even the performance of some of the well known football nations with a higher percentage of their players playing abroad gives me a reason to suspect that the heat is near deadly for these players. Jan 22, 2024, the temperature was 32 degrees celcious but felt like 39 degrees with 71% humidity. This is hard to any layer any day especially those acclamatized to the milder European weather.
Let’s delve closely into the climate situation at Côté d’Ivoire.
Côte d’Ivoire, known for its tropical climate, presents an environment drastically different from the familiar terrains of many foreign-based players. From European leagues to those in other continents, these footballers often grapple with the adjustment required to perform optimally in conditions that push their physical limits.
One of the primary effects of the extreme temperatures is the potential impact on player fatigue. The intense heat can lead to increased perspiration and dehydration, demanding players to meticulously manage their energy levels throughout matches. The risk of fatigue becomes even more pronounced during back-to-back games, a common occurrence in the latter stages of the AFCON tournament.
Moreover, the extreme heat may affect player decision-making and cognitive functions on the field. Studies have shown that high temperatures can contribute to mental fatigue, potentially influencing crucial moments in a match such as goal-scoring opportunities, defensive decisions, and overall tactical awareness. Foreign-based players accustomed to cooler climates must adapt swiftly to maintain their mental sharpness under these challenging conditions.
In addition to the physical and mental toll, the extreme temperatures can impact the overall pace and style of play. Teams may need to adjust their strategies, adopting a more measured and possession-based approach to conserve energy. This alteration in playing style can create an intriguing dynamic, as teams strive to find the delicate balance between offensive prowess and defensive resilience in the unforgiving African heat.
Despite the challenges, the AFCON tournament in Côte d’Ivoire becomes a crucible for resilience and adaptability. Foreign-based players, often lauded for their versatility, face an opportunity to showcase their ability to perform under diverse conditions. Coaches play a pivotal role in managing player rotations, ensuring that squads remain fresh and capable of withstanding the rigors of the tournament.
As the AFCON drama unfolds, the effect of extreme temperatures on foreign-based players becomes a subplot that adds complexity and intrigue to the narrative. Adaptation, preparation, and mental fortitude will be key for these athletes as they navigate the sweltering conditions and strive for glory in the heart of West Africa.
By President, Ghanaian-Canadian Association of Calgary