Soccer-Ziyech back as Morocco warm up for World Cup with win over Chile


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BARCELONA - Hakim Ziyech returned for Morocco after more than a year's absence to help them to a 2-0 win over Chile in their World Cup warm-up at Espanyol’s Cornella-El Prat Stadium on Friday.

Sofiane Boufal netted a 66th minute penalty after defender Paulo Diaz handled to open the scoring and debutant Abdelhamid Sabiri added a second 12 minutes later in a winning start for coach Walid Regragui weeks after he was named Morocco coach.

It was the first of two warm-up games in Spain for World Cup-bound Morocco, who next meet Paraguay in Seville on Tuesday.

Ziyech had been left out of Morocco’s team after last year being accused by previous coach Vahid Halilhodzic of feigning injury to skip playing friendly matches in June 2021.

The impasse between the Chelsea forward and his national team coach saw him miss the World Cup qualifying campaign and the Africa Cup of Nations finals at the start of the year.

But pressure on Halilhodzic to restore Ziyech to the team, and no reconciliation between the pair, led to the coach being fired last month.

Regragui drafted Ziyech straight into the starting lineup on Friday along with Bayern Munich defender Noussair Mazraoui, playing for Morocco for the first time since November 2020.

Morocco play at the World Cup in Qatar in Group F against Belgium, Canada and Croatia.

(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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