Chelsea forward Hakim Ziyech has been left out of Morocco’s squad for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).
Ziyech has not been named in an international squad since June after he “refused to work” for the team, according to manager Vahid Halihodzic.
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 a best result of runners-up in 2004. 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.
The president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), Patrice Motsepe, reiterated on Tuesday that AFCON will go ahead as planned.
There had been much speculation about whether the tournament, which has already been delayed, will go ahead, due to the COVID-19 situation on the continent and domestic situation in host country Cameroon.
Earlier this month, the European Club Association (ECA) board expressed its “deep concerns” about whether players would be safe at the tournament.
An ECA statement added that this came “particularly in light of the worsening public health situation and the severe challenges faced during recent international windows” and the organisation said it was seeking urgent talks with FIFA.”
Full squad below: