Morocco coach Walid Regragui called up Chelsea forward Hakim Ziyech and Paris Saint-Germain’s Achraf Hakimi for his World Cup squad Thursday, less than two weeks before they kick off against Croatia.
“We worked hard on this list with the staff, it’s the best possible line-up to defend our colours,” Regragui told journalists in Rabat.
He admitted that some players would be disappointed at being left out, but said the team wanted to do “something big”.
“We’re hoping that every Moroccan will be behind us and support us,” he said.
Ziyech, 29, returns for the Atlas Lions despite having announced his retirement from international football amid a dispute with former coach Vahid Halilhodzic.
But Halilhodzic, who had also sidelined Noussair Mazraoui for disciplinary reasons and qualified for the World Cup without them, left his job in August over what the national federation called “differences of opinion”.
That set up a return by former Morocco defender Regragui, just three months ahead of the tournament in Qatar.
He will be attempting to lead the football-obsessed nation to its best World Cup result since 1986, when it became the first African country to get past the opening round.
Morocco are in Group F and will face off with 2018 runners-up Croatia, Belgium and Canada.
Goalkeepers: Yassine Bounou (Sevilla/ESP), Munir Mohamedi (Al Wehda/KSA), Ahmed Reda Tagnaouti (Wydad Casablanca).
Defenders: Achraf Hakimi (Paris Saint-Germain/FRA), Noussair Mazraoui (Bayern Munich/GER), Nayef Aguerd (West Ham/ENG), Badr Benoun (Qatar SC), Romain Saiss (Besiktas/TUR), Yahya Attiyat Allah (Wydad Casablanca), Jawad El Yamiq (Valladolid/ESP), Achraf Dari (Brest/FRA).
Midfielders: Sofyan Amrabat (Fiorentina/ITA), Abdelhamid Sabiri (Sampdoria/ITA), Selim Amallah (Standard Liege/BEL), Azzedine Ounahi (Angers/FRA), Bilal El Khannouss (Genk/BEL), Yahya Jabrane (Wydad Casablanca).
Forwards: Hakim Ziyech (Chelsea/ENG), Amine Harit (Marseille/FRA), Abde Ezzalzouli (Osasuna/ESP), Zakaria Aboukhlal (Toulouse/FRA), Sofiane Boufal (Angers/FRA), Ilias Chair (Queens Park Rangers/ENG), Youssef En-Nesyri (Sevilla/ESP), Walid Cheddira (Bari/ITA), Abderrazak Hamed Allah (Al-Ittihad/KSA).
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