By The Atlas Lions, May 6 2019 11:00AM
EXCLUSIVE: Tottenham rivals Ajax's Hakim Ziyech and Noussair Mazraoui won't eat or drink during daylight hours for four days in run-up to Champions League semi decider
Ajax stars Hakim Ziyech and Noussair Mazraoui have told the club that they are going to fast during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
But Dutch fitness guru Raymond Verheijen has warned the pair, who will not be consuming any food or liquids during daylight hours from Sunday, that they will suffer physically at a crucial stage of the season for Treble-chasing Ajax.
The Amsterdam side face Willem II in the Dutch Cup Final on Sunday, then host Tottenham on Wednesday night in the second leg of a Champions League semi-final they lead 1-0 and are ahead of PSV Eindhoven only on goal difference at the top of the Eredivisie with two games to go.
Verheijen said: “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.
“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.”
Ziyech played all but three minutes of last week's first leg in north London, while Mazraoui came on as a substitute just after the hour.
Verheijen added: “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.”
Ajax coach Erik ten Hag refuses to ask any of his squad to put their fitness needs ahead of their religious beliefs. He said: “It is the choice of my players. I leave this entirely up to them."