The French-Bosnian coach Wahid Khalilozic described his dismissal from his post as coach of the Moroccan national team - last summer - and depriving him of his leadership in the Qatar 2022 World Cup, where the Atlas Lions shone, as "taking away his pride from him."
In statements to the Croatian news site "Tiportal HR", Halilhodzic said, "They took my pride away from me, I cannot forget that, and I cannot forgive them, because the Qatar World Cup should have been like the end of my coaching career as well."
And the Moroccan national team - led by his compatriot Walid Regraki (47 years), who took over the leadership of the Atlas Lions to succeed Khalilozic at the end of last August - did well in the world championship in Qatar, by reaching the golden square for the first time in its history and the history of Arab and African football.
The Moroccan national team became the first Arab and African team to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup (Getty Images)
The Moroccan national team succeeded in overthrowing ancient teams, most notably Spain in the final price and Portugal in the quarter-finals, before losing to France in the semi-finals.
The Atlas Lions finished the World Cup in fourth place, after losing to Croatia (1-2), which was the first team they faced in the group stage when they tied negatively.
The Moroccan national team rises in the new FIFA rankings to rank 11 in the world 💪#DimaMaghrib 🇲🇦 pic.twitter.com/qxRAKJhXnU
— FRMF (@FRMFofficiel) December 22, 2022
The Moroccan national team also ranked 11th in the monthly international ranking of teams issued by the International Federation of Football Associations (FIFA) 4 days after the end of the tournament, which is the best arrangement occupied by the Atlas Lions in their history, after they were ranked 22 in the world in October. first last.
Halilhodzic, 70, confirmed that the praise he gave even - given by his successor Walid al-Rakraki - "did not cure his bitterness or compensate for his deprivation of presence in the World Cup," he said.
The former coach of Paris Saint-Germain, who took over the technical management of the Atlas Lions in 2019, was dismissed from his post on August 11, due to his insistence on continuing to exclude Hakim Ziyash (Chelsea star) from the national team due to “discipline problems,” as he justified.
At the time, the Moroccan Federation terminated the Bosnian coach's contract, stressing that it was "an amicable separation, due to differing 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 Canada match (2-1) in the third and last round of the group stage, contributing to reaching the final price for the second time in its history after the first time in 1986 in Mexico.
Ziyash also scored the second penalty kick against Spain in the final price, which ended with Morocco winning (3-0) on penalties after the match ended in a draw without goals, and led Morocco to the quarter-finals for the first time in its history.
Ziyash (29 years) was one of the "unwelcome" elements by Wahid Khalilozic, which prompted the player to announce his international retirement because of that, and was even one of the reasons that led to Khalilozic's dismissal, before he changed his decision to retire after the Bosnian-French coach left. office.
And Khalilozic paid the price for his intransigence by terminating his contract and ending his duties, after he had renewed his contract until the year 2024, last May.
Despite the Moroccan fans' demand for the need to use Ziyash's experience, talent, and services in light of the absence of creativity in the "Atlas Lions" midfield, especially after the humiliating loss to the United States by three clean and friendly last June, the coach refused.
Ziyash amended his decision to retire internationally after Khalilozic was dismissed and was one of Morocco's most prominent stars in the Qatar World Cup (Reuters)
Khalilozic - who accused Ziyash of being "unreliable and causing problems" among the team - entered into a war of statements with the president of the Moroccan Football Association, Faouzi Lakjaa, who was keen to meet with him and stress putting aside differences for the sake of the national team, but to no avail.
Khalilozic - who has a rich and long training career - took over the training of the Moroccan national team in August 2019, succeeding French Hervé Renard, and last March he succeeded in leading the Atlas Lions to the Qatar World Cup 2022, but he did not supervise him in the World Cup, as he was dismissed and Walid appointed. Al-Rakraki as his successor.