Fitness expert Verheijen: Ajax's Ziyech and Mazraoui would be irresponsible to fast against Tottenham

Hakim Ziyech Ajax 2018-19
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Muslims are expected to fast from dawn to dusk in the holy month of Ramadan

Former Wales assistant manager and Dutch fitness coach Raymond Verheijen has advised Ajax duo Hakim Ziyech and Noussair Mazraoui to avoid fasting ahead of the return fixture of the Uefa Champions League semi-final clash against Tottenham Hotspur.

The Dutch giants boast a goal advantage and welcome Mauricio Pochettino's side to Amsterdam on Wednesday, in their quest to advance to the final of the elite European competition.

After helping Ajax win the Dutch Cup on Sunday, Ziyech and Mazraoui join Muslims around the world in celebrating the holy month of Ramadan which starts on Monday.

The religious obligation of fasting is from dawn to dusk each day, and fitness coach Verheijen is concerned about their health ahead of the crucial encounter at the Johan Cruyff Arena.

“It would be irresponsible if Ziyech and Mazraoui stick to the fasting requirements of Ramadan at this stage of the season. Ajax’s situation is extreme - everyone is aware of that," Verheijen told Mirror.

“The players’ bodies will be deregulated, as they will be changing a pattern of training and diet of the past 11 months.

“If you do this now, in the ultimate performance weeks of the season, it is like throwing a spanner in a wheel. Their blood sugar level will be lower - and that means less and less energy. Not only does that make athletes less alert, it will also send weaker signals to the muscles of the body

“The sun sets on Wednesday night at 21.18 in local time and the second leg of the semi-final kicks off at 21.00. You can’t play without eating before the game. And what about if this match goes to extra time, with Tottenham leading 1-0?

“I expect the players to realise that this is almost impossible for them.”

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During the first leg at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Ziyech provided the assist for Donny van de Beek's goal that separated both teams and was in action for 87 minutes while Mazraoui was introduced as a 65th-minute substitute for Lasse Schone.

Next month, Ziyech and Mazraoui will hope to replicate their impressive form at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.

The Atlas Lions are drawn in Group D against South Africa, Namibia and Cote d'Ivoire.