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Hakim Ziyech has been axed from Morocco's squad for their upcoming World Cup qualifying matches after he "refused to play" in a friendly match, alleges boss Vahid Halilhodzic.
It is a claim the Chelsea star has denied, posting a laughing emoji on Instagram to his 4.8 million followers.
The 28-year-old is arguably Morocco's most decorated footballer having recently won the Champions League with the Blues.
Yet that has not stopped Halilhodzic from stubbornly leaving him out of the squad for the crucial games against Sudan and Guinea.
The midfield maestro is alleged by the boss to have refused to play against Ghana in June after being passed fit by the medical team.
But Ziyech argues he was still injured and unable to take to the field, causing a major rift with the manager.
"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 has to be a positive role model," Halilhodzic told The New Arab.
"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."
Should Hakim Ziyech have been axed from the squad? Let us know in the comments section.
Morocco are set to embark on qualifying for their second successive World Cup after making the previous tournament in Russia for the first time in 20 years.
The Atlas Lions rank higher than all of Group I opponents but they'll have to play at least the opening two matches without star man Ziyech.
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Halilhodzic believes the former Ajax man is not fully committed to the national team: "The first time in my coaching career, I have seen behaviour that disappoints me. 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."
- Champions League
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