UPDATE: Mouez Hassen was actually injured, for real, in the first 15 minutes of Tunisia’s game against England. You can follow along with our England vs. Tunisia live blog to get the latest.
Once the sun goes down, so does Tunisian national team goalie Mouez Hassen.
The veteran keeper has made a recent habit of taking an injury break once the sun sets during international friendly matchups. That timeout allows his Ramadan-observing teammates to break their day-long fasts and grab some food on the sideline.
Hassen has hit the turf in the second half of each of Tunisia’s international showdowns against Portugal and Turkey. That’s led to a stoppage while team trainers run out to the goal and check on him — and just enough time for his teammates to re-up their energy levels with dates and water on the sideline. The coaching staff is in on the ploy as well; they’ve been waiting with food and drinks each time Hassen has needed assistance.
: Mouez Hassen (@hassen_mouez) touché lors d’un contact aérien avec un joueur turc,les Aigles de Carthage en profitent pour romprent le jeûne avec quelques barres énergétiques,des dattes et de l’eau— Les Aigles de Carthage (@LADC_Officiel) June 3, 2018
#Ramadan #Iftar #TUNTUR (2-2) @LBDFootball @tunisiefootball pic.twitter.com/iGYLlijTlm
Fun fact:— Souhail Khmira (@SKhmira) June 2, 2018
Tunisian National team has played the last two friendlies while fasting. So, whenever the time comes to break Fast. The players have an agreement that the GK would go down so they can get a moment to drink some water and get something to eat #Ramadan #tunisia pic.twitter.com/4Rgz380ukW
The plan has worked. A recharged side — Tunisia’s Muslim players spend Ramadan not eating or drinking anything while the sun is up — has battled back with stronger performances after each break. Both the Eagles of Carthage’s goals in its 2-2 draw vs. Turkey came after the stoppage in net. Against Portugal, the team scored an equalizing goal just six minutes after the injury timeout in a 2-2 draw.
Hassen isn’t copping to the strategy ... but, yeah, he totally knows we know what he’s up to:
J’avais mal frero— Mouez Hassen (@hassen_mouez) June 3, 2018
That’s French for “I was hurt, bro.” The three crying emojis probably don’t need any translation. Sure, Hassen might be diving, but he’s diving for a greater cause than himself. When he goes down, his entire team gets stronger. Literally.
He’ll have a chance to dust off that strategy for one final friendly on Saturday when Tunisia faces Spain. He won’t have to call out the medics during the World Cup, however. The Eagles’ first game in the Group Stage doesn’t happen until June 18 — three days after Eid al-Fitr, the official end to Ramadan. After that, Hassen and his teammates can eat all they’d like during the day.