Chelsea player Hakim Ziyech claims he would not return to the Morocco national team after an ongoing war of words with head coach Vahid Halilhodzic.
Ziyech was omitted from Morocco’s Afcon roster and, following their elimination, Halilhodzic declared Ziyech would not be invited back into the team “even if his name was Lionel Messi”.
The former Dutch youngster has now replied, lashing back by accusing the coach of “lying” while accepting that he would not return to play for his nation.
“I understand them, but I will not return to the Moroccan national team and this is my final decision,” Ziyech told ADSportsTV.
“It’s all clear for me how things are going over there and I am focusing on what I am doing and, right now, that is my club.
“At the end of the day, it’s a decision he makes and you have to respect it. All the lying that comes with it, it’s, for me, clear and I will not return to the national team.
“I understand and feel sorry for [the fans], but that’s the situation we’re in.”
Ziyech last played for Morocco in a friendly against Burkina Faso in June, and that encounter served as the catalyst for his disagreement with the national team’s coach.
Following the friendly against Burkina Faso, Halilhodzic stated:
“His behaviour in the last two matches, especially the last one, was not that of a national team player who, as a leader in the team, must be a positive role model.
“He arrived late and after that, he even refused to work. There was no point in discussing it afterwards, as a coach the answer is right there to see.”
Halilhodzic reaffirmed that conclusion last week, stating that Ziyech’s behavior while serving on the national team “does not match the selection.”
“He doesn’t want to train, doesn’t want to play,” he said of Ziyech. “He doesn’t take it seriously. I’m not going to beg him to come back.
“After the [Afcon] tournament three years ago, he was the most criticised. He was booed. You mustn’t forget that.”
Ziyech earned 40 caps while scoring 17 goals for the Atlas Lions.