African star backtracks on retirement decision

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Morocco international Hakim Ziyech (right)
Morocco international Hakim Ziyech (right)

After announcing his retirement from international football earlier this year due to a strained relationship with his former national team coach, a prominent African star has now reversed his decision to quit representing his country.

Chelsea star Hakim Ziyech has gone back on his call to hang up his boots for Morocco after being recalled to the national squad on Monday for the team's upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup warm-up fixtures. 

The former Ajax Amsterdam attacker spent a year exiled from the Atlas Lions due to a fallout with the team's previous manager Vahid Halilhodzic.

The Bosnian coach was fired by the Royal Moroccan Football Federation last month, however, with an official from the organisation revealing he was sacked partly due to his strained relationship with some of the country's best players.

The dismissal came as shock for many, though, as it came just three months ahead of the global spectacle, after Halilhodzic had guided the side to a spot in Qatar later this year. 

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The 69-year-old's poor relationship with Ziyech saw him leave the 29-year-old out of his 2021 Africa Cup of Nations squad in January, over the winger's reported unwillingness to play in a friendly, according to The Washington Post.

The new tactician at Morocco's helm, Walid Regragui, has since named the Blues star in his 31-man squad for the team's fixtures against Chile and Paraguay, which are set to take place in Spain on 23 and 27 September, respectively.

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At the World Cup, Morocco have been placed in Group F alongside 2018 runners-up Croatia, FIFA's current second-ranked nation Belgium, and North America's Canada, who are set to take part in the showpiece for the first time in 36 years.

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