Chelsea handed Hakim Ziyech boost with Morocco declining to recall winger for Africa Cup of Nations

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Chelsea handed Hakim Ziyech boost with Morocco declining to recall winger for Africa Cup of Nations
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  • Chelsea
    Chelsea
    LiveTodayTomorrowvs--|
  • Hakim Ziyech
    Association football player
  • Vahid Halilhodžić
    Bosnian association football player and manager

Chelsea will have Hakim Ziyech available throughout January after the winger was omitted from Morocco's squad for the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations.

The former Ajax star was not included in Vahid Halilhodzic's 25-man party for the 2022 tournament that is set to go ahead in Cameroon between January 9 and February 6.

The Dutch-born Ziyech has scored 17 goals in 40 senior caps as one of Morocco's key players since switching his international allegiance from the Netherlands back in 2015, appearing at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

However, the 28-year-old has not played for his country since a pair of friendlies against Ghana and Burkina Faso back in June amid criticism of his behaviour from head coach Halilhodzic.

"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 positive role model," Halilhodzic said in the summer, per the Daily Mail.

The relationship between the pair has evidently not recovered sufficiently in time for next month's tournament.

1976 champions Morocco have been placed in Group C for AFCON alongside Ghana, Gabon and Comoros.

Hakim Ziyech has fallen out of favour under Morocco head coach Vahid Halilhodzic (Chelsea FC via Getty Images)
Hakim Ziyech has fallen out of favour under Morocco head coach Vahid Halilhodzic (Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

Their squad includes Wolves defender Roman Saiss, Watford duo Adam Masina and Imran Louza and QPR playmaker Ilias Chair as well as Paris Saint-Germain wing-back Achraf Hakimi and Sevilla striker Youssef En-Nesyri.

Ziyech’s availability will come as a relief to Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel, whose squad have been battling Covid-19 and injury issues during a worrying recent slump that has seen them slip six points behind Manchester City in the Premier League title race.

Despite ongoing doubts over Ziyech’s future at Stamford Bridge, Tuchel would prefer to keep him until the summer window at least.

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