Morocco sacks coach Vahid Halilhodzic three months before World Cup

Morocco is searching for a new head coach after the country’s football federation sacked Vahid Halilhodzic just three months before the start of the FIFA World Cup.

“Given the differences and divergent visions between the Royal Moroccan Football Federation and national coach Vahid Halilhodzic on the best way to prepare the national football team for the Qatar 2022 World Cup, the two parties decided to separate,” the Moroccan football federation (FRMF) said in a statement.

FILE PHOTO: Former Morocco head coach Vahid Halilhodzic. /CFP

Halilhodzic’s dismissal appears to be linked to differences with the federation over his handling of two of the team’s star players: Hakim Ziyech and Noussair Mazraoui.

Ziyech and Mazraoui were frozen out of the squad by Halilhodzic for disciplinary reasons but the 69-year-old still guided the Atlas Lions to the quarterfinals of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations and this year’s World Cup.

FRMF President Fouzi Lekja has been pushing for Ziyech’s return, in particular, as fans called for his reinstatement to the team even after the midfielder announced his retirement from international football.

This is the third time that Halilhodzic has been sacked by a national team after they qualified for World Cup finals after similar dismissals by Côte d’Ivoire and Japan before the 2010 and 2018 tournaments, respectively

Walid Regragui, who led Moroccan side Wydad Casablanca to the African Champions League title in May, is expected to be named as Halilhodzic’s replacement.

(Story compiled with assistance from wire reports)