Hakim Ziyech announces shock retirement from international football after fallout with manager
Chelsea's Moroccan international Hakim Ziyech announced his retirement from international football on Tuesday after a long-standing fallout with head coach Vahid Halilhodzic
The Chelsea star has been in impressive form lately and has six goals and four assists in 25 appearances across competitions this season. Despite him being the best player available to be selected by Morocco, he has been regularly dropped from the team. Halilhodzic accused him of faking an injury to avoid playing a friendly against Ghana last year.
The Chelsea star appeared distraught while making the announcement but claimed he had made his final decision:
“Obviously they(the supporters) are (unhappy). I understand them, but I will not return to the national team. I focus on my club now. I understand the supporters' decision, I'm sorry for them.”
When implored, the forward reiterated that it was his final decision:
“Yes, this is my final decision. It’s all clear for me, how things are going over there. It’s all clear for me, and I am focussing on what I am doing. It’s the decisions he makes. You have to respect it, but if all the lying comes with it, it’s pretty clear. As I said before, I will not return to the national team.”
Chelsea’s Hakim Ziyech’s feud with Morocco manager ends with his international retirement
Moroccan fans will be disappointed considering Ziyech is arguably the team’s best player. The 28-year-old was not part of the AFCON squad as Morocco crashed out in the quarter-final at the hands of Mohamed Salah-led Egypt.
The tournament ended with Sofiane Boufal top-scoring for Morocco with three goals while Achraf Hakimi scored two.
Ziyech’s presence could have made Morocco one of the top contenders for the title which was eventually won by Senegal.
After being accused of feigning an injury before playing against Ghana, he was dropped from the squad in September. This was despite the player being an integral part of the squad that finished top of their AFCON qualifying group. The Chelsea star scored thrice and also had two assists during the qualifying campaign.
Ziyech last played for Morocco in a friendly against Burkina Faso in June 2021. It now seems as if that will prove to be his final national team appearance.
He seems to have waited to announce his retirement only after the AFCON tournament. The Chelsea star obviously wanted to be respectful of his international teammates and appeared emotional while making the announcement.