Thursday, 6th July 2017

Sarawak’s 4-0 loss to JDT on Saturday was put down to fatigue by head coach David Usop. Fans may sigh at the unimaginative justification but there is reason to ponder as to how much truth there is behind travel fatigue being a hindrance to athletic performance.

The team had travelled from Kota Bharu to Kuala Lumpur before taking a connecting flight to Johor Bahru. All in all we are looking at approximately 2 hours of flight time. Take into consideration airport check ins, waiting time, layover time and transportation from airport to hotel, conservatively, we are looking at 8 hours of idle time for the footballers.

Being disconnected from the Peninsula, Sarawak has to resort to air travel and air travel is complicated by enormous flight connections, which a team has to make before it reaches its destination.

Considering that Sarawak only travelled a day before the match, match preparation was less than ideal. Travel fatigue which refers to the feeling of tiredness and stiffness due to travelling for a long time can occur during air or after long road journeys by car, bus or coach.

This can easily be reversed through rest, combined with light exercises and a shower or a short time of sleep.

However, flying in a day before a match gave Sarawak little or no chance to conduct proper recovery.

Travel fatigue causes attention deficits and the inability to concentrate.

In football, the inability to concentrate will lead to poor performance and increased risk of injuries.
As per the report in Utusan Sarawak, David Usop clearly states that ‘letih dan leka punca kalah teruk’.

In other words, the lack of proper travel plans had caused fatigue and lack of concentration.

This is not helped with the sudden fixture congestion with the start of the Malaysia Cup mid-season where teams will play a game every four days or so, leaving recovery time at a minimum.

Even the national set up is affected by the sudden congestion in fixtures when only six players reported for the national under 22 training camp for the 2018 AFC Cup qualifiers in Bangkok (from July 19 to 23).

Teams are reluctant to release their players because of concurrent hectic domestic schedules that has them playing 12 matches in 40 days.

The battle between club and country has surfaced and leads to tension between the clubs — which pay the players’ salaries and rely on them for their own success— and the national team.

Thus, without careful scheduling – by the league, clubs and national team – the lack of preparation, rest, recovery and training will ultimately lead to negative results.

Maybe David Usop is onto something.

A football junkie…

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