Chelsea star Hakim Ziyech has been omitted from the latest Morocco squad due to "unacceptable behaviour", the country’s head coach Vahid Halilhodzic has confirmed.
Ziyech has won 41 caps for Morocco since making his international debut in 2015, with his last outing coming in the 1-0 friendly victory over Burkina Faso on June 12.
The Chelsea winger also appeared from the bench in a 1-0 win against Ghana four days earlier, but he was not included in Halilhodzic’s latest squad for World Cup qualifiers against Sudan and Guinea.
Halilhodzic has now explained why he has left Ziyech out, revealing that the 28-year-old’s conduct in the last international break fell well short of the required standard.
“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 told a press conference on Wednesday.
“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. For me, the national team is above everything, nobody can hold it hostage."
The Morocco boss claims Ziyech initially feigned injury to get out of playing against Ghana and then refused to warm up when asked to come on in the second half to show his disapproval after being named as a substitute.
“For the first time in my coaching career, I have seen behaviour that disappoints me," Halilhodzic added. "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. You can’t cheat with the national team. You are 100% there or you are not."
Ziyech was at the centre of a similar incident back in 2017, as then-head coach Herve Renard left him out of his Africa Cup of Nations squad due to his poor attitude in training.
The attacker was exiled from the international stage for well over a year before clearing the air with Renard ahead of the 2018 World Cup, where he appeared in all three of Morocco’s group stage games.