Morocco head coach Vahid Halilhodzic has axed Chelsea midfielder Hakim Ziyech from the national team due to his “unacceptable behaviour”.
The North African nation earned a 2-0 win at home against Sudan in their first World Cup qualifier on Thursday. Ziyech though was not involved and he will not face Guinea on Monday either.
Morocco will be left to manage without their star man after Halilhodzic said the 28-year-old “refused to work”.
Halilhodzic accused the Chelsea man of lying about an injury before a set of friendly fixtures in June.
“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 has to be a positive role model. He arrived late and after that, he even refused to work,” Halilhodzic told a press conference.
“For the first time in my coaching career, I have seen behaviour that disappoints me. A player who refuses to play a game, admittedly a friendly, on the pretext that he is injured.
“The medical staff made several examinations and said he could play. He then refused to warm up in the second half because he was disappointed to be a substitute. For me, that type of behaviour is unacceptable.”
Ziyech has form
Ziyech has won 41 caps for Morocco and scored 17 goals.
The wideman has only featured for eight minutes for Chelsea this season. As a substitute in the 2-0 Premier League win away at Arsenal.
He suffered a shoulder injury in Chelsea’s UEFA Super Cup victory against Villarreal in early August.
The former Ajax man, who has been backed by Thomas Tuchel this summer, was involved in a similar spat with his country in 2017.
He was surprisingly left out of Morocco’s preliminary squad for the Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon.
He then rejected a late inclusion as replacement for the injured Younes Belhanda. However, he cleared the air with then-head coach Herve Renard ahead of the 2018 World Cup, where he appeared in all three of Morocco’s group games.