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WC Qualification Africa

World Cup 2022 Qualifiers: Mazraoui follows in footsteps of Ziyech, turns down Morocco

11:38 AM GMT+4 14/03/2022
Noussair Mazraoui of Morocco is challenged by Sessi Dalmeida of Benin.
The 24-year-old has turned down a call-up to feature for the Atlas Lions against DR Congo in the decisive play-offs

Ajax defender Noussair Mazraoui has joined winger Hakim Ziyech to turn down a call-up to feature for Morocco in the upcoming 2022 World Cup play-offs against the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Morocco coach Vahid Halilhodzic named the two players in his provisional list for the two-legged fixture, the first meeting set for Kinshasa on March 25 before the return leg four days later in Casablanca.

While Ziyech, who turns out for Chelsea was the first to turn down the call, Mazraoui has also declined the invitation after he published a statement on his social media pages.

“For Morocco, the people and the supporters whom I dearly love,” Mazraoui started in his statement. "For a year and a half, I have not been called up to the national team, without reason or explanation.

“I had never felt such disrespect. It was a painful moment for me. Despite all the lies about me relayed in the media, I remained calm and silent […] It was never my choice and I honestly believe I didn't deserve it.”

The 24-year-old defender directly targeted coach Halilhodzic when explaining why he is putting his international career on hold. “After all that, I recently had the decency to speak with the officials of the federation.

“I did it out of love for the supporters and for Morocco (…) unfortunately, the coach does not seem to have had time to talk to me. To be able to meet him and dispel the misconceptions that surround me is of the utmost importance to me (…).

“So it is with a broken heart that I have decided not to play for the national team during the next selection. I wish the best to the whole team and I hope to see you again in the future inshallah.”

For his part, ZIyech wrote: “I’m sorry to disappoint the fans, it was not an easy decision to make, but unfortunately I feel I have no other choice.

“Although I have given my all for the team over the past six years, the leaders continue to spread false information about me and my commitment to my country. Their actions have prevented me from continuing to do part of the team. I wish the team the best for the future.

“As a player, my focus is on my club.”

Ziyech was also not part of the Morocco squad that participated in the 33rd edition of the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.