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Former Moroccan national team coach: They took my pride away from me

The French-Bosnian coach, Wahid Khalilodjic, said, “He took my pride away from me,” after he was dismissed from his position as coach of the Moroccan national team this summer and deprived of his leadership in the 2022 World Cup, where the Atlas Lions shone.

“They took my pride away from me. I can’t forget that, and I can’t forgive them. Because it (the World Cup) should have been the end of my coaching career as well,” Halilodjic, 70, told the Croatian news site Teportal.HR.

The Moroccan national team, led by his compatriot Walid Rekraki, Khalifa Haliludjic, performed well at the World Cup in Qatar by reaching the round of four for the first time in its history and the history of Arab and African football. France in the semi-finals.

Morocco finished the World Cup in fourth place after losing to Croatia (1-2), which was the first team it faced in the group stage when they tied goalless.

Halilodjic confirmed that even the tribute made by his successor in his right “did not heal his bitterness or compensate for his deprivation of being in the World Cup.”

The former coach of Paris Saint-Germain, who took over the technical management of the Atlas Lions in 2019, was sacked from his post in late August due to his insistence on continuing to exclude Chelsea star Hakim Ziyech from the national team due to “disciplinary problems.”

At the time, the Moroccan Federation touched on a “friendly” separation due to “differences of views on the Atlas Lions’ readiness.”

Ziyash starred remarkably in the Qatari World Cup and played a major role in the Atlas Lions reaching the semi-finals, as he opened the scoring in the match against Canada (2-1) in the third and final round of the group stage, contributing to reaching the final price for the second time in its history after the first in 1986 in Mexico.

Ziyash also scored the second penalty kick against Spain in the final price (3-0 on penalties, the original and extra time 0-0) and led Morocco to the quarter-finals for the first time in its history.

Ziyash, 29, was one of the “unwelcome” elements of Khalilodjic, and he announced his international retirement because of that.

Khalilodjic paid the price for his intransigence by excluding him, despite the Moroccan fans’ demand for the need to use his experience, talent, and services in light of the absence of creativity in the midfield of the “Atlas Lions”, especially after the humiliating loss to the United States by three clean and friendly, last June.

Khalilodjic, who accused Ziyash that he could not be “trusted and stirred up problems” among the team, entered into a war of statements against the president of the Moroccan Football Federation, Fawzi Lakjaa, who was keen to meet with him and stress that differences be set aside for the benefit of the team, to no avail.

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