Ziyech: Morocco open door for Chelsea winger to return to squad

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Hakim Ziyech Morocco 2018
The 29-year-old was not part of the Atlas Lions’ squad that featured at the 33rd edition of the Afcon tournament in Cameroon

Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF) has confirmed the door for the national team is wide open for Chelsea winger Hakim Ziyech ahead of the 2022 World Cup finals in Qatar.

The 29-year-old has on two occasions turned down a call to feature for the Atlas Lions, the latest coming in the 2022 World Cup play-offs against the Democratic Republic of Congo a month ago.

Despite earning a call to join the provisional squad named by coach Vahid Halilhodzic, the Chelsea player alongside Ajax defender Noussair Mazraoui turned it down saying he was concentrating on club duties.

However, FMRF president Fouzi Lekjaa has said nobody can stop a Moroccan player from playing for the national team.

“The doors of the national team are open to all Moroccan players, regardless of their differences,” FMRF president Lekjaa said during a board meeting this week as quoted by BBC Sport Africa.

“Nobody can stop a Moroccan player playing for the national team, whether it’s Ziyech or anyone else.”

On turning down the call to face DR Congo, a two-legged fixture they won 5-2 on aggregate to qualify for the finaL, Ziyech said then: “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 be part of the team. I wish the team the best for the future.

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

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In Qatar, Morocco have been drawn to face Croatia, Belgium and Canada.

Ziyech, who had announced his retirement from international football at the age of 28, on February 8, 2022, was also not part of the Morocco squad that participated in the 33rd edition of the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.