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Chelsea's Ziyech 'will not return' to Morocco duty

The 28-year-old was omitted from his country’s squad for the recent Africa Cup of Nations.

Image: Alamy Stock Photo

MOROCCO ATTACKER Hakim Ziyech said on Tuesday he would be dedicating his energy to his club Chelsea, and would not play for his country again.

The 28-year-old was omitted from Morocco’s squad for the recent Africa Cup of Nations by coach Vahid Halilhodzic, who reproached the winger for indiscipline.

Morocco face a home and away play-off against DR Congo in March for one of five prized slots for African nations at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Halilhodzic reiterated his reasons for leaving Ziyech out in the cold last week when it was confirmed he would stay in charge of Morocco.

Ziyech is in the United Arab Emirates with Chelsea ahead of their Club World Cup campaign and made his statement in an interview with broadcaster Abu Dhabi Sports.

“I will not return to the national side,” he said.

“My decision is clear and final, I’ll be concentrating on my club,” he added.

Halilhodzic explained his choice after Morocco’s elimination in the AFCON quarter-finals.

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“I can’t call up a player who can ruin the group, even if it was Lionel Messi,” he said.

He also said that France had won the World Cup in 1998 and 2018 after “sidelining their best players.”

“I’m not the first coach to resort to this,” he said.

– © AFP 2022

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