Morocco coach Vahid Halilhodzic was disappointed by Ziyech’s poor attitude in their last friendly match last June
Morocco coach Vahid Halilhodzic has left Chelsea star Hakim Ziyech out of his squad for bad behavior.
Ziyech has won 41 caps for Morocco since making his international debut in 2015, with his most recent appearance coming in a 1-0 win over Burkina Faso in a friendly on 12 June.
Winger Chelsea had also come off the bench in beating Ghana 1-0 four days earlier, but he was not called up to Halilhodzic’s latest squad to face Sudan and Ghana in the World Cup qualifiers.
Halilhodzic then explained why he left Ziyech, revealing that the 28-year-old’s behavior in the previous international break was unacceptable.
“His attitude in the last two games, especially the last one, is not the attitude that should be shown by a national team player who, as a leader in the team, should be a positive role model,” he said at a press conference on Wednesday (1/9) local time.
“He arrived late and afterward refused to work. There’s no point in discussing that, as a coach the answer is obvious. For me, the national team above all else, no one should be held hostage.”
The Morocco boss claimed Ziyech initially faked an injury to avoid playing against Ghana and refused to warm up when he was set to come on in the second half in protest at being substituted.
“For the first time in my coaching career, this is the first time I have seen an attitude that has disappointed me,” added Halilhodzic. “A player who refuses to play, just friendship indeed, under the pretext that he is injured.”
“The medical staff did some tests and said he could play. He then refused to warm up in the second half because he was disappointed to be substituted. For me that is intolerable behavior. You can’t cheat on the national team. You are 100 per cent there or nothing.”
Ziyech was also highlighted for a similar incident in 2017, when Morocco’s coach at the time, Herve Renard, did not take him to the Africa Cup of Nations due to a bad attitude in training.
The forward was ostracized from the international stage for over a year before finally reconciling with Renard ahead of the 2018 World Cup, where he featured in all (three) Morocco matches in the group stage.