Hakim Ziyech makes national football return after year out following controversy

Chelsea star Hakim Ziyech made a victorious return to the Moroccan national side after a controversial incident with former boss Vahid Halilhodzic saw him frozen out for over a year.

The former Ajax winger, 29, was already a 39-time capped international before the decision to exclude him from his nation’s set-up.

He had been accused by Halilhodzic of feigning injury last year to miss friendlies and made him miss the entire qualifying campaign for the upcoming World Cup, whilst he was also not named in the Morocco squad for the African Cup of Nations at the start if the year – the Atlas Lions only managing to reach the quarter-finals of the competition.

Speaking after that move, Halilhodzic said: “For me, the collective is more important. Anyone who doesn’t respect the team cannot play with me.

“When you wear the national team jersey and behind you there are 38 million Moroccans who love that team and are proud of it, you cannot spoil its image. It’s important that everyone behaves correctly.”

That decision led to tension within the Moroccan ranks and Halilhodzic was made to pay with his job, eventually being replaced by Walid Regragui, who granted Ziyech a route back into his nation’s plans.






Vahid Halilhodzic


Vahid Halilhodzic made the decision to exclude Hakim Ziyech out of the Morocco fold
(
Getty Images)

Should Chelsea have sold Hakim Ziyech in the summer? Share your thoughts in the comments below

He certainly enjoyed a dream start back with his country as former Southampton winger Sofiane Boufal opened the scoring against Chile on Friday night from the penalty spot, whilst Abdelhamid Sabiri netted on his debut to double Morocco’s lead.

The victory over Chile represents the first of two warm-up matches for the nation ahead of the upcoming World Cup in Qatar. They next take on South American outfit Paraguay in Seville on Tuesday night before turning their attentions to group games against Croatia, Belgium and Canada.

Regardless of being back in the fold of his international side, Ziyech certainly needs to work hard to regain his form ahead of the upcoming tournament in the Middle East.

The winger has been an underwhelming signing for Chelsea having arrived at Stamford Bridge over two years ago in a £33m switch from Dutch giants Ajax. In that time, he has scored just 14 goals for the Blues and has endured a poor start to the new season having made just four appearances so far – only one of those being starts.

There were suggestions that Ziyech could leave West London this summer with former side Ajax having been linked with a move, whilst Italian giants AC Milan were also rumoured to be among his admirers.

Ziyech currently has just under three years left on his current Chelsea contract having penned a five-year deal upon arriving at the club.

Top Chelsea stories

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.