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Hakim Ziyech return ‘impossible’ as manager reiterates his stance following “unacceptable” behaviour

Hakim Ziyech return ‘impossible’ as manager reiterates his stance following “unacceptable” behaviour

Hakim Ziyech has found his stride for Chelsea after a stop-start career in west London, but the former Ajax man’s international career has been the polar opposite.

The 28-year-old scored in back-to-back games before the international break, demonstrating the quality that prompted the Blues to sign him after losing Real Madrid flop Eden Hazard, first against Brighton and then against Antonio Conte’s Tottenham Hotspur.

The Moroccan had a quiet international break, with Atlas Lions manager Vahid Halihodzic reiterating his stance on a player he left out of his Africa Cup of Nations squad.

Ziyech sat out the tournament as Morocco advanced to the quarterfinals, and Halihodzic’s comments suggest he won’t be back.

Back in September, Halihodzic accused Ziyech of “unacceptable behavior,” accusing the Chelsea player of refusing to play in a friendly for Morocco.

“For me, the national team is above everything, nobody can hold it hostage,” the 69-year-old said.

“The medical staff made 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 behaviour is unacceptable.”

After Morocco’s quarter-final exit, the manager was asked about his future in the tournament, and he reiterated his position.

“The players I have selected are the best in the country,” Halilhodzic said, as reported by Goal.

“I don’t select a player who can unbalance the group. Not even if his name is Lionel Messi.

“Ziyech’s behaviour does not fit the selection. He doesn’t want to train, doesn’t want to play. 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 criticised. He was booed. You mustn’t forget that.”

Ziyech was a member of Morocco’s World Cup squad, starting all three group games as they were eliminated at the first hurdle after failing to advance out of a group that included Spain, Portugal, and Iran.

He also started all four of his country’s games at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, where they won their group without conceding a goal but were eliminated by Benin in the last-16.

In this year’s tournament, Halihodzic’s team finished first in their group and defeated Malawi in the last 16, but Egypt eliminated them after extra time in the following round.


Hakim Ziyech return ‘impossible’ as manager reiterates his stance following “unacceptable” behaviour

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