Morocco fire coach who pushed Ziyech to international retirement, citing 'divergent visions' ahead of World Cup

Vahid Halilhodzic Hakim Ziyech GFXGetty / GOAL

Morocco have sacked national team head coach Vahid Halilhodzic - the man who pushed Hakim Ziyech into international retirement. The Moroccan football federation (FRMF) cited "divergent visions" as the main reason for their decision ahead of the 2022 World Cup.

Halilhodzic initially took charge of Morocco in August 2019, and he guided them to the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations at the start of the year.

The Atlas Lions also qualified for the World Cup for the sixth time in their history under the Bosnian coach in March as they beat DR Congo in their final play-off tie, but he won't be leading the team in Qatar.

What have Morocco said about Halilhodzic's departure?

The FRMF have released an official statement confirming Halilhodzic's departure, which reads: "Given the differences and divergent visions between the Royal Moroccan Football Federation and coach Vahid Halilhodzic, the best way to prepare the national football team for the Qatar 2022 World Cup was that the two parties decided to separate by mutual consent.

"In this regard, the Royal Moroccan Football Federation extends its heartfelt thanks to the coach, Mr. Vahid Halilhodzic, for the period in which he supervised the leadership of the national team, foremost for qualifying for the 2022 World Cup with a promising young team full of great future ambitions.

"The Royal Moroccan Football Federation affirms that it will provide all the means and capabilities to prepare the national team well in the horizon of its participation in the Qatar 2022 World Cup."

Why did Ziyech fall out with Halilhodzic?

Chelsea star Ziyech won 40 caps for his country after making his international debut in 2015, with his final appearance coming in a friendly against Burkina Faso in June 2021.

Halilhodzic exiled the winger from his squad after that match as he blasted him for a lack of discipline while claiming that he did not want to participate in training or matches.

Ziyech announced his retirement from international football in February, but FMRF president Fouzi Lekjaa has insisted that the door is open for him to return, and it has been reported that the 28-year-old may reverse his decision and join the squad at the World Cup with Halilhodzic now out of the picture.