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Chelsea's Ziyech left out of Morocco's AFCON squad

Chelsea’s Hakim Ziyech has been left out of Morocco’s squad for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), The Athletic can confirm. Ziyech has not been named in an international squad since June after he “refused to work” for the team, according to manager Vahid Halihodzic.

The squad is captained by Wolves defender Roman Saiss, Watford pair Adam Masina and Imran Louza also included. Pairs Saint-Germain right-back Achraf Hakimi is the side’s star player.

Speaking in June, Halihodzic said: “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, must be a positive role model.

“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."

“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 per cent there or you are not. I won’t tolerate it.”

Ziyech has won 41 caps for Morocco, scoring 17 goals.

Morocco have not won AFCON since 1976, with their best result in 2004 where they finished as runners-up. They have not progressed past the quarter-finals in 17 years, although they are among the favourites for this year’s tournament.

Their group involves Ghana, Gabon, and Comoros.

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