Chelsea attacker Hakim Ziyech was a surprise omission from Morocco’s squad for their World Cup qualifiers last week. Vahid Halilhodzic, the coach of the national team, has shed light on the situation.
The tactician opened up about Ziyech’s exclusion:
“For the first time in my coaching career, I have seen a behavior that disappoints me. A player [Ziyech] who refuses to play a game, admittedly a friendly, on the pretext that he is injured.”
“The medical staff took several examinations and said he could play. He then refused to warm up in the second half because he was disappointed to be a substitute. For me, that type of behavior is unacceptable. You can’t cheat with the national team. You are 100% there or you are not.”
The Moroccan coach also said Ziyech’s behavior in the last two matches, especially the last one, was poor. Halilhodzic added that the forward’s attitude was “not that of a national team player who as a leader in the team has to be a positive role model.”
“He arrived late and after that he even refused to work. There was no point in discussing it afterwards, as a coach the answer is right there to see. For me, the national team is above everything, nobody can hold it hostage.”
Morocco will take on Sudan later today (September 2) in a World Cup qualifier clash and Hakim Ziyech will not participate in the encounter. The Chelsea winger was left out of the squad as the saga between him and Halilhodzic dragged on.
He will also miss the clash with Guinea on September 6. Ziyech will be back in action for Chelsea when they host Aston Villa in their next Premier League game on September 11.
Hakim Ziyech yet to step up at Chelsea
Chelsea signed Hakim Ziyech from Ajax last summer in a deal worth €40 million. The attacker impressed for the Dutch outfit during the 2018-19 and 2019-20 campaigns.
So far, the Morocco international has recorded just seven goals and four assists in 41 appearances for the Blues across all competitions. Chelsea will be hoping to see him at his best as they chase the Premier League title this season.