Senegal midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate has revealed how he and Ghana striker Jordan Ayew have had to come together with their other Muslim colleagues at Crystal Palace to get through the period of Ramadan.
The ninth month of the Islamic calendar, Ramadan spans a period of 29 or 30 days where Muslims stay away from food from dawn until sunset.
Observing Ramadan has always posed a challenge to footballers, considering the high physical and energy demand of the sport.
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“It depends on your head. It’s like mental. If you come in and say: 'Yeah, it’s gonna be hard,' it’s gonna be hard. The [harder] month is if you do it in the pre-season," Kouyate remarked, as reported by his club's official website.
“After [training] we go to his [Christian Benteke’s] house. He does Ramadan [with] me, Mama [Sakho] and Jordan [Ayew]. And he prays with us in the night. Yeah, it's very, very good. It's a very good experience."
While Muslims typically prefer to celebrate the end of Ramadan with family and friends, the situation may be different this year due to health and safety concerns in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic.
"But maybe this month [isn't going to] be the same. Eid is something [that we like to] do together, enjoy the time, everything is positive, it's like a big moment for all. It's very, very good, it's an unbelievable [end to the] month for us,” Kouyate added.
Kouyate has made 30 Premier League appearances involving 29 starts for Palace so far this season. He also has a goal to his name, having registered the Eagles’ consolation strike in a 2-1 loss to Everton in September.
While Kouyate joined Palace in 2018, Ayew transferred to the club a year later, initially signing a loan deal from Swansea City.
So far this term, the Ghanaian has played 28 times for Palace in the league, starting in 21 games and scoring his solitary goal in a 4-1 triumph over Leeds United last November.
The 28-year-old is one of two Ghana internationals at Selhurts Park, the other being Jeffrey Schlupp.