The Burger King-sponsored Amajita will are in Suwon, Korea Republic in preparation for the upcoming 2017 FIFA u20 World Cup.
The team has been in the East for the past five days as they need to acclimatize to unfamiliar conditions and a huge time difference – South Korea is seven hours ahead of South Africa.
The Chief Medical Officer of the South African Football Association (SAFA), who is currently on national duty with the South African u20 National Team, shares some information on how they are dealing with conditions.
Traveling towards the east is very challenging than towards the west. The reason is that the east is ahead in time whereas the west is behind. So it is easier to delay the time in order to adapt and acclimatize when travelling to the west than actually fast tracking it when travelling to the east.
There is a massive time difference between RSA and South Korea – seven hours. We have travelled across seven time zones and jet lag and fatigue is our serious challenge. We therefore need 24 hours per time zone to fully acclimatize, which is effectively seven days.
We have also put together a plan to fast track acclimatization:
• Encourage the players to have enough sleep and avoid light between 04h00 and 10h00
• Encourage light exposure between 12h00 and 18h00
• Falling asleep at night will be difficult so we have been giving the players Melatonin tablets
30 minutes before sleep time
• In the morning it is difficult to keep awake so we have been giving the players caffeine
drinks e.g. Coffee
• We confiscate their phones at 12h00 midnight, which will be 17h00 SA time and give them back
at 13h00, which is 06h00 SA time. This will encourage them to sleep and rest when it’s time to
• We encourage the players to rest and elevate the legs as much as possible
• Before our departure from South Africa, we sent through our menu to the hotel and there are no
challenges when it comes to the team diet. We are extremely happy with the food we have had
• Weather and altitude is not a serious issue because we are almost at sea level and it is not
too cold here
• There is a mild malaria risk and everyone is on malanil.
“I’m very certain that come our first game on the 21st the players would have adapted and acclimatized fully. The signs are already there – good sleep patterns, good appetite and positive response to the physical body demands,” said Dr Ngwenya.
“As individuals, players respond slightly differently to conditions, however our aim and goal is to have a positive response from all by the 21st (first match of the tournament against Japan). So I am certain that come that time, all the players would have responded positively and fully adapted to the conditions.”
The FIFA U20 World Cup kicks off in seven days time. It will be played from 20 May – 11 June.