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Ziyech refuels amid Ramadan fast to put Ajax in Champions League driving seat against Spurs

Ziyech refuels amid Ramadan fast to put Ajax in Champions League driving seat against Spurs
Moroccan international Hakim Ziyech, who is a practising Muslim, was prohibited from eating until the 24th minute of the semi-final against Tottenham due to Ramadan but doubled Ajax's advantage just minutes after refuelling.

The Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which takes place between May 5 and June 4, is observed by Muslims across the globe as a month of fasting between dawn and dusk as a way to mark the passing of the first chapters of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad.

Ramadan ended for the day in Amsterdam at 9.18pm local time, some 18 minutes after kick-off.

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While this presents obvious challenges for those who partake in it, it is especially so for sportspeople whose nutrition is of utmost importance. 

Ajax duo Hasim Ziyech and Noussair Mazraoui are two such athletes. Eagle-eyed viewers of Wednesday's Champions League semi-final between Ajax and Tottenham in Amsterdam will have noticed both players taking a break to receive 'energy gels', substances provided for athletes to provide an energy boost and optimize hydration. 

Raymond Verheijen, a Dutch coach who specializes in nutrition, has criticized athletes competing during Ramadan in the past, saying that competing with the necessary energy could hinder both the team and their own health.

"It would be irresponsible if Ziyech and Mazraoui stick to the fasting requirements of Ramadan at this stage of the season," Verheijen said. "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."

If this is indeed the case, it would appear that no one told Hasim Ziyech, as the 26-year-old scored Ajax's second goal of the night - just ten or so minutes after his fast ended.