Benatia Not Called by Morocco

Morocco’s interim manager Hassan Benabicha confirmed today that Mehdi Benatia has not been called by the national team after the defender made some critical statements of the team and questioned his future involvement with the national side.

Benatia spoke two weeks ago regarding his future with Morocco and stated, “We wonder what direction we’re headed in. If I don’t see that all of the effort is made to have a good African Cup of Nations then I will retire from the national team and focus only on my club.”

Today, Benatia was informed that he has not been called up and admits that it is no surprise.

Mehdi, were you surprised by your non-call?

“No, not really because it has been a little while and I haven’t heard anything recently. I have to reconsider everything that has happened, a week ago Mustapha El-Haddaoui, a former player who is more or less close to the federation, called me to tell me that the interim coach wanted me to join even after reading my statements about my country. But apart from the steward, who called me to ask me to take my ticket for the next friendly match, nobody called me . And Saturday, I saw that in an interview with France Football, the coach said ‘If Benatia doesn’t come, that’s his problem.’ If the coach had any doubts about my involvement, he could call me, even if I think the question was badly asked. When I read his interview, I thought it wasn’t good because it’s sending the wrong message to supporters. If the manager doubted my involvement, he only needed to call me, he would have known that I had already bought my ticket to Marrakech.”

You have resented this?
“Yes, I’m furious. This is a coach that I don’t want to get to know and with whom I have no desire to work with. Concerning Younes Belhanda, he never asked to be called and he never criticized the decisions of the manager. But if he had things to say about Younes and his alleged lack of competitiveness, he could’ve called him directly, as is done in all selections, rather than vent in public. His words are not very intelligent because they do not help Younes, who is an important player or selection. As an educator, he should know this. Anyway, he’s a temporary manager and fans know this, once they decide in the coming months (on a permanent manager) then I’ll be the first to join the team.”

Source(s): L’Equipe

The Editor of, John has been covering Italian football as a freelance journalist for over 10 years and has appeared in various publications including,, and ESPN.