Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

The 2019 Africa Cup of Nations will test the fitness of the players with the Confederation of African Football (CAF) suggesting the average temperature for this time of year is between 35°C and 38°C.

But it will get much higher‚ with a cursory glance at the weather forecast for the next seven days in Cairo showing that three are set to exceed 40°C‚ and three more will be between 38°C and 40°C.

Add to that humidity of between 40% and 60% and it is going to be highly uncomfortable for the players throughout the tournament. It is perhaps surprising that the CAF was so eager to send the competition to Egypt in these conditions.

CAF has issued a media advisory saying three-minute rest breaks have been recommended at around the 30th and 75th minutes of matches‚ and wet towels and ice buckets to be on hand for teams.

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It stated that provision must be made to treat heat-related illnesses on site‚ in expectation that players‚ or even officials‚ could suffer exhaustion.

Bafana’s opening match against Ivory Coast on Monday has a kick-off time of 4.30pm‚ with an expected temperature of 37°C at that time of day with 57% humidity. Their second game on June 28 against Namibia will kick off at 10pm‚ providing some relief‚ while their third against Morocco on June 1 is at 6pm.

Similar temperatures and humidity are expected for both matches‚ though the later kick-off will see the dial drop to a mere 31°C.

It will be energy-sapping for the players and by the time the final is played on July 19‚ it could be the fittest‚ and not necessarily the best‚ teams who will contest the decider.