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Hakim Ziyech snubbed by Morocco amid claims of falling out with the head coach


Morocco v Benin: Round of 16 - 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Photo by Visionhaus

Hakim Ziyech was a surprise absentee from the 24-man Morocco squad announced yesterday for the upcoming international break, and while there are a couple reasonable explanations for his absence, some reports are claiming that something a bit more dramatic is going on.

Ziyech has been dealing with a shoulder injury that he picked up in the UEFA Super Cup a couple weeks ago, and while he’s been back in training and even made an 8-minute cameo at the end of our game against Arsenal on Sunday, it wouldn’t be surprising if Chelsea requested that he’d remain with the team to complete his recovery over the next two weeks.

And that’s before we factor in any concerns about travel and COVID, though it should be noted that Morocco is only on the UK’s amber list, so is Guinea, whom they play away next week. Morocco also have a home game against Sudan, who are on the red list, but that shouldn’t be a problem. In fact, Wolves’ Romain Saïss is among those called-up, so Morocco doesn’t appear fall under the Premier League clubs’ decision to withhold certain players.

Given the lack of an official explanation, some reports have speculated that Ziyech has actually fallen out with Morocco head coach Vahid Halilhodžić, whom we might remember as the man who once accused Chelsea loanee Matt Miazga of faking a back injury and then walking out on Nantes after getting banished to the reserves. That may not be indicative of anything beyond just that unfortunate situation, but let’s just say that Miazga wouldn’t make for a good character witness for the 68-year-old, who’s certainly had a fair share of disagreements and controversies during his long coaching career.

In fact, one such disagreement apparently occurred with Ziyech himself during the last international convocation, when the midfielder took a couple extra days to rest after the Champions League final and then reportedly got into a “verbal altercation” with the head coach as well. The two supposedly had a strained relationship even before then, and now there is “zero chance” that Halilhodžić will call on Ziyech again.

Oh, and Ziyech reacted to the squad announcement by posting a big crying-with-laughter emoji on his Instagram story, and not just pay tribute to the 2015 Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year.


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