July 5, 2022

Africa: Frustrated Ziyech retires from international football

By Allan Damba
Hakim Ziyech (L) was snubbed from the Morocco squad for the Africa Cup of Nations by manager Vahid Halilhodzic (R) | Courtesy Image

Chelsea forward Hakim Ziyech has rubbished any plans to return to the Morocco national team even if they qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, revealing he has quit international football for good, after a fallout with coach Vahid Halilhodzic.

Ziyech has been involved in a war of words with Halilhodzic, who accused him of feigning injury to avoid playing for Morocco in mid-year friendlies last June. The player has denied the accusation.

It meant he was left out of the squad for the recent Africa Cup of Nations finals in Cameroon, with Halilhodzic suggesting he had no intention of selecting the attacker for the World Cup qualification playoff tie against the Democratic Republic of Congo in March.

The Bosnian coach insisted that the 28-year-old would not be welcomed back “even if he was Lionel Messi”. 

And it has sparked the former Ajax star to speak out on the situation, concluding that he has quit his country to concentrate on his club duties.

“I understand them (the fans), but I will not be returning to the national team. It’s my final decision. It’s all clear for me how things are going over there. I’m focusing on what I’m doing, and right now that’s my club,” he was quoted by BBC.

“At the end of the day, it’s a decision (Halilhodzic) makes and you have to respect it. If all the lying comes with it, it’s for me clear. Like I said before, I will not return to the national team. I feel sorry for (the fans), but that’s the situation right now,” he concluded.

First called up in 2018 after representing the Netherlands at U19, U20 and U21 levels, Ziyech made 40 appearances for Morocco over the years, scoring 17 goals.

The Chelsea forward’s last cap came in June 2021, in a 1-0 win over Burkina Faso in an international friendly.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.