Hakim Ziyech is not enjoying the best of times at Chelsea, but the fortunes may be more in his favor when it comes to his national team. New Morocco head coach Walid Regragui has recalled Ziyech to the national team ahead of the friendlies against Chile and Paraguay in the upcoming break, with a view certainly on World Cup preparations.
Ziyech had decided to retire from international football earlier this year after being ostracized by Vahid Halilhodžić. But after a series of disagreements with his superiors, Halilhodžić was sacked in August (despite qualifying for the World Cup) and the new man in charge represents an opportunity to start anew. Alongside Ziyech, Regragui has also recalled Younes Belhanda and Noussair Mazraoui, two other players who had been ousted by the previous head coach.
Regragui seemed quite excited by Ziyech’s return to the fold, and also led a vehement defense of the Chelsea man’s previously criticized character.
“When I spoke to him, he accepted immediately and told me that he couldn’t wait to return to the squad.
“I know he has quite a strong character. For example, he can raise his hand in protest if I replace him and is a player who does everything to assert himself on the pitch to play. We will wait for the Hakim that all Moroccans love, the one who fights on the pitch and who gives everything to his team.
“I prefer players who discuss decisions rather than passive players who are simple performers. An angry player after being substituted, I don’t mind as long as he plays a good game. If he is unhappy, it proves that he wants to play, score and help the team. What matters is to help your own people win and to be up to it. As for me, I don’t need to have coffee every day with one player or another to understand each other. Performance on the pitch will be the sole judge.
“He has a lot of quality, even if he doesn’t play regularly he’s a Chelsea player and he is not just at any club.”
-Walid Regragui; source: BBC
Let’s now hope that this translates to something beautiful at the World Cup — and at Stamford Bridge as well!