Chelsea winger Hakim Ziyech has rejected the chance to play for Morocco in their 2022 World Cup play-off against DR Congo later this month.
The 28-year-old, who has not played for the Atlas Lions since June 2021, announced his decision to quit international football after a falling-out with Morocco coach Vahid Halilhodzic.
“I love my country and playing for the Moroccan national football team has been the honor of my lifetime, so it is with great sadness that I must announce that although the FRMF President today confirmed that I will be pre-selected for the team, I won’t be returning to play for Morocco,” read the statement.
“I’m sorry to disappoint the fans, this was not an easy decision to make, but sadly I feel I have no other choice. Despite giving my all to the team over the past 6 years and supporting them my entire life, the leadership continue to release misinformation about me and my commitment to my country.”
Adding, “Their actions have made it impossible for me to continue to be part of the team. I learned the news about the pre-selection at the same time as everyone else, so I’m releasing this statement to ensure that you hear the truth directly from me. Thank you to everyone who has supported me, I wish the team nothing but the best for the future. My focus as a player is at my club Chelsea FC.”
It is obviously a big blow for Morocco to lose such a big player, but from Chelsea’s perspective, it may be helpful to have a player whose sole focus is on the club. Considering what the manager said about Ziyech, it is also easy to see why he made the decision.