Hakim Ziyech returns to Morocco squad in pre-World Cup friendly match following brief retirement

Hakim Ziyech returns to Morocco squad in pre-World Cup friendly match following brief retirement
Football star Hakim Ziyech returned to the Moroccan side for the first time in over a year for a pre-World Cup friendly match, following a retirement prompted by a dispute with then-Atlas Lions coach Vahid Halilhodzic.
2 min read
24 September, 2022
Ziyech in action for Morocco against Chile in a friendly match on Friday [Getty]

Chelsea football star Hakim Ziyech made his grand return to the international football scene as he played for Morocco for the first time in over a year during the Atlas Lions’ friendly match against Chile on Friday night.

Ziyech, had previously announced his retirement from international football in February this year, following a dispute with then-coach Vahid Halilhodzic, who accused the forward of lack of discipline.

The Moroccan team beat their South American counterparts 2-0 at Spanish side Espanyol’s Cornella El-Pat stadium in their first match under new coach Walid Regragui.

The match at half time remained at 0-0, but Sofiane Boufal, who plays for the French Ligue 1 side Angers, revived hopes of a Moroccan win by netting a rewarded penalty kick in the 66th minute.

Sampdoria’s Abdelhamid Sabiri sealed the Atlas Lions’ victory with a second goal in the 78th minute.

Twenty-nine-year-old Ziyech, who had not played for Morocco since June 2021, was not included in the 2022 African Cup of Nations squad in January this year, after the Bosnian coach alleged that Ziyech was feigning injury in order to skip playing friendly matches.

The dispute also saw the Chelsea's winger missing Morocco's World Cup qualifying campaign.

Halilhodzic was subsequently sacked due to "difference of opinion" last month over preparations for this year’s upcoming World Cup tournament in Qatar.

Walid Regragui, who previously coached Moroccan side Wydad Casablanca, was named as his replacement.

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Earlier this month, Regragui named Ziyech as part of his squad for Morocco’s friendlies against Chile and Paraguay, which are the North African team’s last pre-World Cup matches.

Morocco will face Paraguay on Tuesday at Seville’s Benito Villamarin Stadium and will be next seen during the World Cup finals due to take place in Qatar between November and December this year.

The Moroccan side will feature alongside the Belgium, Canada and Croatia teams in Group F.