Morocco-Georgia. An athletically decisive warm-up match

This is a first in the history of the World Cup. Nations qualifying for the 2022 World Cup will not complete full athletic preparation before entering the competition. A puzzle partly solved thanks to the preparation match which will oppose Morocco to Georgia, this Thursday, November 17 at 5 p.m., on the lawn of Sharjah Stadium in the United Arab Emirates.

Directed by Willy Sagnol, former French international and ex-coach of the Girondins de Bordeaux, Georgia is 78th in the FIFA rankings. With a game plan based on fast transitions, she finished undefeated in the League of Nations, but will suffer from the almost certain absence, of his best player, the left winger Khvicha Kvaratskhelia (SSC Napoli).

Beyond all technical and tactical considerations, “this match will allow the national team staff to keep the players competitive and on pace” assures Médias24, Yassine Talkoucht, physical trainer of the Olympic club of Safi (OCS).

In other words, the objective will be “to prevent players from remaining inactive too long, because some are recovering from injury and others had a long period of inactivity between their last club game and the start of preparation for the World Cup,” he adds.

Uneven states of form

A reading of the playing times of the group of 26 reveals the difficulties faced by the staff of the national team, in particular unequal states of form between:

– Players are in recovery phase (Aboukhlal, Ez Zalzouli);

– Players very requested at the start of the season by their respective clubs (Ounahi, Hakimi, Attiat Allah);

– Players who have had very little playing time (Ziyech, Aguerd);

– Players whose the championships are over more than a month ago (Munir, Banoun);

The opposition of this Thursday afternoon will therefore be decisive for the athletic preparation of the national team, and mainly the eleven which should launch the world. “We don’t yet know if the probable starters against Croatia will play the first 45 minutes before giving way to the substitutes in the second half,” wonders Yassine Talkoucht. “The ideal would be to grant as many playing times as possible to the starters,” he continues.

This option offers the possibility “to set up a micro cycle from today so that players have a overcompensation on the day of the match against Croatia” says our interlocutor. And to explain: “the day after the opposition against Georgia will be reserved for recovery in order to begin a normal micro cycle of preparation, with a workload that increases crescendo”.

The idea is therefore to program a weekly fitness peak, in the impossibility of programming a peak of form during the world. “The conditions for putting in place a peak of form during the competition are not met” he underlines, because of the little preparation time available to the staff.

Measure the workload carefully

By widening the field to the 26 selected, they should preferably have the same state of freshness at the start of the competition. In this context, “individualized work is essential. Staff should pay attention to physical load-freshness ratio, so that the 26 are in shape on D-Day,” said the OCS physical trainer.

This imperative requires the Moroccan athletic performance unit to watch playing times, accurately measure the state of fatigue and seek to constantly adapt. In short, it will be necessary to be as close as possible to the sensations of each player, to carefully measure the work done. “The use of GPS technology in player tracking will facilitate this balance”.

It will also be a question of favoring an adequate diet. “Regeneration is indeed dietaryly important, just like recovery, whether active or passive, before or between matches” completes our interlocutor.

For now, the first two days of training (Monday and Tuesday) have just been focused on recovery before embarking on a real preparation (Wednesday). Work in differentiated workshops has been prioritized.

It is true that the room for maneuver is extremely small in terms of physical preparation, but competition can be a driving force in athletic terms. Because we can only bet on a rise in power thanks to the competition, failing to have an athletic preparation worthy of the name, with a peak of form during the world.

The tournament itself will get the players into the rhythm, bring them into a cycle of trust that will give them physical feelings, not an athletic preparation. Starting with Thursday’s match against Georgia.

Morocco-Georgia, Thursday November 17 at 5 p.m.

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