ALEXANDRIA, EGYPT // The UAE team lost their last three friendly games as they prepared for the Under 20 World Cup, but Mohammed Khalfan al Rumaithi, the president of the Football Association, is not too concerned since those matches were played during Ramadan. "We are Muslims and fasting is a duty," he said. "But when you play after breaking fast against a team that is not fasting, it does matter on the physical side.
"The blessing is that there is a gap of almost eight days between the end of Ramadan and our first game against South Africa [on Sunday]. "In these days, according to the doctors, they say that players will return to their normal routine, their normal eating and sleeping habits. "Although they were fasting, our team delivered good matches. We lost three games to Trinidad & Tobago, Cameroon and Ivory Coast, but we played well and missed a lot of chances.
"To illustrate how fasting can affect a player, Ivory Coast [who defeated the UAE 3-1 in one of the friendlies] had a player who was fasting and he was pulled out after the first half. "His coach knew the player could not give the same level of performance for the full 90 minutes. So it does have an affect, but as I said we have a week or eight days to come back to normal life and I hope our team will do well."