Hughes Hopes to See the Best of Moroccans Now They Are Back to Full Strength

Daily Mail (London), September 22, 2009 | Go to article overview

Hughes Hopes to See the Best of Moroccans Now They Are Back to Full Strength


Byline: JOHN GREECHAN

HE HAS marvelled at their dedication, admired their strength of faith -- and suffered just watching them endure a month of self-denial. Now John Hughes is hoping that the end of Ramadan will allow him to enjoy the simple pleasure of seeing Merouane Zemmama and Abdessalam Benjelloun performing at full power. The Moroccan Muslims have stuck rigidly to the fasting rituals associated with Ramadan, refusing all food and drink between the hours of sunrise and sunset. Hibs manager Hughes has been impressed with the pair's ability to stay the course. But he is also thrilled that the holy month came to a close over the weekend -- because he needs his two most creative players to be fuelled up for the challenges ahead. Hughes, looking to take another step towards the Co-operative Insurance Cup Final by seeing off SPL rivals St Johnstone at Easter Road tonight, said: 'We've got Ramadan finishing, so hopefully we'll start seeing the best of Benji and Zuma. 'I think they've coped very well. You have to be very, very understanding of their religion and what it means to them. Not knowing much about it, I can see that it's a powerful tool, just from speaking to them. They have great belief and you have to respect that.

'But I l felt for them during Ramadan, because it was only last week -- Tuesday, I think -- that it was stiflingly hot and we did a really hard session. I was giving the players 15-minute water breaks and wee Zuma couldn't drink.

'They can't even go and take on liquids. So that's when you really see it affecting them. But you see the other side of it today. In the dressing room this morning, you could see they had been eating and they're sharp, looking great. Hopefully, we can see the best of them.' Zemmama and Benjelloun definitely add something to Hibs, a touch of arrogance that enables them to play with adventure in the final third. …

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