JAKARTA: Indonesia's soccer coach is having trouble getting his players in shape ahead of next month's World Cup clash with Turkmenistan most are observing the Islamic fasting month and are unwilling to train hard in the afternoon.
If I force them, they could get dehydrated,'' Peter Withe was quoted as saying in Koran Tempo daily on Tuesday. They also can't concentrate fully,'' said the former England and Aston Villa striker.
The only floodlit venue available for training at night, after the players have broken their fast, is Jakarta's massive sports stadium. The paper quoted a local soccer official as saying it would be too expensive to light up the arena every night for training.
During Ramadan, observant Muslims refrain from eating and drinking during daylight hours. Many choose to stay up late at night and sleep during the afternoon.
Indonesia play Turkmenistan on Nov 17 in the final match of their Asian World Cup qualifying group. They have to win to stand a chance of progressing to the next round.
More than 80% of Indonesia's 210 million people are Muslim, making it the world's most populous Muslim nation. Ramadan is scheduled to end on Nov. 14. AP