Chelsea star Hakim Ziyech has said he will not return to the Morocco national team amid an ongoing war of words with head coach Vahid Halilhodzic.
Ziyech was kicked out of Morocco’s Afcon squad and after they were knocked out, Halilhodzic said Ziyech would not be welcome in the team ‘even if his name was Lionel Messi’.
And the Chelsea star has now responded, hitting back by accusing the manager of ‘lying’ while agreeing he won’t return to play for his country.
What did Ziyech say?
“I understand them, but I will not return to the Moroccan national team and that is my final decision,” Ziyech told ADSportsTV.
“It’s all clear to me how things are going there and I’m focused on what I’m doing and, right now, this is my club.
“At the end of the day, it’s a decision he makes and you have to respect it. All the lies that go with it, it’s, for me, clear and I’m not coming back to the national team.
“I understand and I feel sorry for [the fans]but that’s the situation we’re in.”
The last time Ziyech played for Morocco was last June in a friendly match against Burkina Faso, with that match being the starting point of his feud with the national team coach.
After the Burkina Faso friendly, Halilhodzic said: “His behavior in the last two matches, especially the last one, was not that of a national team player who, as the leader of the team , must be a positive role model.
“He arrived late and after that he even refused to work. There was no point discussing it afterwards, as a coach the answer is there to see.”
Halilhodzic doubled down on that assessment last week, saying Ziyech’s behavior in the national team ‘does not match the selection’.
“He doesn’t want to train, doesn’t want to play,” he said of Ziyech. “He doesn’t take it seriously. I’m not going to beg him to come back.
“After the [Afcon] tournament three years ago, he was the most criticized. He was booed. We must not forget that.”
Ziyech, who has won 40 caps while scoring 17 goals, has featured 25 times for Chelsea this season, scoring six times.