Morocco Coach Issues Defiant Statement on Hakim Ziyech Despite AFCON Exit

Morocco Coach Issues Defiant Statement on Hakim Ziyech Despite AFCON Exit

Rene Otinga
updated at April 12, 2023 at 7:55 PM
In this article:
CAF Africa Cup of Nations logo
  • Hakim Ziyech was overlooked for the Africa Cup of Nations by Morocco coach Vahid Halilhodzic
  • Halilhodzic expressed no regrets at the decision, despite the fact his team was knocked out of the competition in the quarter-finals
  • The Morocco coach says he will not beg any player to come back to the national team, regardless of the player’s quality
  • Ziyech and the Morocco boss’s feud dates back to 2021 when the winger was accused of faking injuries to get off national team duty

Morocco’s national team coach, Vahid Halilhodzic insists he will not beg winger Hakim Ziyech to come back to the side, despite the nation’s exit from the Africa Cup of Nations.

The Atlas Lions were knocked out of the competition in the semi-final by Egypt, despite an initial impressive run in the group stages.

Hakim Ziyech
Hakim Ziyech has not featured for his Morocco national team in this year's Africa Cup of Nations. Photo: Getty.
Source: Getty Images

Halilhodzic did not select Ziyech for the competition after a public fallout that dates back to 2021, and this decision was thoroughly questioned after Morocco exited the competition.

Despite Ziyech scoring 17 goals in 40 appearances for his country, the Morocco coach remained firm in his decision to leave him out of the team.

“After the [AFCON] tournament three years ago, he was the most criticized,” Halilhodzic said as quoted by Daily Mail.
“He was booed, you mustn't forget that. 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.”

Morocco’s run in the 2021 AFCON

Initially, it was a case of ‘No Ziyech, no problem’ for Morocco, who went past the group stage thanks to wins against Ghana, Comoros and an entertaining 2-2 draw against Gabon.

In the last 16, they edged Malawi 2-1 but their run was ultimately brought to a halt by Egypt, who have since gone on to the final.

The Morocco coach insists that despite the early exit, he selected ‘the best squad’.

“The players I selected are the best in the country. It was not the quality of the players, but the lack of opportunities.”

Meanwhile, Ziyech has been turning up for his club Chelsea and has been an integral part of Thomas Tuchel’s side in recent weeks.

He was on the scoresheet in the Blues’ latest Premier League outing - a 2-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur.

Mo Salah vs Sadio Mane in the final

In the Africa Cup of Nations, the competition enters its peak as Egypt set up a showdown with Senegal after edging hosts Cameroon via penalties.

Cameroon were more impetus in 90 minutes as they hit the post twice but could not find a goal as the 120 minutes passed with the scores at 0-0.

The host nation will now face Burkina Faso in the third/fourth-place play-off.

Rene Otinga photo
Rene Otinga
Rene Otinga is a sports journalist with over eight years of working experience in digital media. Rene's experience includes working as a Copywriter at X News Kenya and