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Hakim Ziyech Rejects Morocco Call Up; Stands by Decision to Quit National Team

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By Martin Graham | 15th Mar 2022

Chelsea winger Hakim Ziyech has rejected another call-up to play for Morocco in their FIFA 2022 World Cup playoff against Democratic Republic of Congo later this month.

Ziyech had a fall-out with Morocco national team manager Vahid Halilhodzic in 2021 which led to a war of words between the winger and the Bosnian manager.

As a result, Ziyech missed all of Morocco’s World Cup qualifier games, leading to his eventually retiring from the national team.

Morocco Football Federation (FRMF) president Fouzi Lekjaa revealed to local media that Ziyech and Ajax defender Noussair Mazraoui, another player who has been involved in a dispute with Halilhodzic, were both included in Morocco’s preliminary squad for the two-legged tie against DR Congo.

Both Ziyech and Mazraoui took to Instagram to reject the call-up.

Ziyech’s post read: “I love my country and playing for the national team has been the honour of my lifetime, so it is with great sadness that I must announce that although the FRMF president confirmed that I will be pre-selected for the team I won’t be returning to play for Morocco.

“I’m sorry to disappoint the fans, this was not an easy decision to make, but sadly I feel I have no other choice.

“Despite giving my all to the team over the past six years and supporting them my entire life, the leadership continue to release misinformation about me and my commitment to my country,” Ziyech added.

“Their actions have made it impossible for me to continue to be part of the team. I learned the news about the pre-selection at the same time as everyone else, so I’m releasing this statement to ensure that you hear the truth directly from me.

“Thank you to everyone who has supported me, I wish the team nothing but the best for the future. My focus as a player is at my club Chelsea.”

Mazraoui, who last played for Morocco in November 2020, wrote on Instagram: “For a year and a half I have not been called up to the national team, without reason or explanation.

“So it is with a broken heart that I have decided not to play for the national team during the next selection. I wish the best to the whole team and I hope to see you again in the future.”

Morocco travel to DR Congo on 25 March, and will host the Leopards in a return leg on 29 March. The winners of the tie will go straight to the World Cup which will be held in Qatar later this year.

Martin Graham is an MFF sports writer

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