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No way back for Hakim Ziyech at Morocco with Vahid Halilhodžić

Maybe the next coach will be nicer

FBL-AFR-AFCON-2021-2022-EGY-MAR Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images

Crusty old blowhard Vahid Halilhodžić has doubled down on his decision to not take either Hakim Ziyech nor Noussair Mazraoui to the Africa Cup of Nations, depriving Morocco of two of their best and most talented players for the tournament, which ended for them with a disappointing 2-1 defeat to Mo Salah Egypt in the quarterfinals.

While Halilhodžić placed the blame for their exit on the lack of finishing in the game, he also made it quite clear that Ziyech especially will not be coming back anytime soon — or as long as he’s the coach, which may not be for too long considering the reaction to their defeat.

“He is not a player who can save a national team.”

“I cannot summon a player who can explode the group, even if his name is Lionel Messi. You want me to beg someone to play for the national team? There is a group, a collective spirit, I want to keep that. I have already forgiven twice, the third is enough!

“It’s not easy for me either, but we have to respect the coach and the national team. [...] Aimé Jacquet, Didier Deschamps became world champions by dismissing the best players. I’m not the first to do this.”

-Vahid Halilhodžić; source: Afrik-foot via Google Translate

Halilhodžić had accused Ziyech of faking injury and not being committed enough to the national team last summer in the latest of their petty disagreements, and despite calls for reconciliation, evidently the divide had become too great.

On the plus side, we’ve reaped the benefits of Ziyech staying with Chelsea, including a most glorious, museum-worthy goal against Spurs last week. Thanks, Vahid!