Rabat – Mehdi Benatia has dealt with many rumors since Renard did not choose him for the 2019 CAN qualifiers. And this time is no exception.
Speculations ran wild after coach Herve Renard released his list of 25 players for the Morocco-Malawi Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) qualifier. The list did not include Mehdi Benatia, the team’s captain, leaving the door open for massive rumors.
Local media were quick to jump to conclusions, reporting tensions between the coach and the captain since the end of the 2018 World Cup when Benatia made a statement blaming “people close to the team” after Morocco’s loss in the second game against Portugal.
Benatia shut down that rumor, responding to Moroccan media outlet Lions de l’Atlas by tweeting that Renard is not just a coach for him but also a friend. “One more lie. This is too much!” he added.
However, Benatia did not give a further explanation until another rumor about him missing from the squad surfaced.
Several media outlets, including Lions de l’Atlas and Assabah, reported that the 31-year-old football player did not make the cut because of an injury.
Moroccan newspaper Assabah reported that the Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF) obtained a medical file from Benatia’s club, Juventus, explaining the national team captain’s physical condition.
The footballer, according to the newspaper, suffered from abdominal pain. The newspaper added that Benatia’s condition required him to rest for about four months.
Fed up by all the gossip, the Atlas Lion made an Instagram story where he finally explained why he will not play with the national team.
“I want to deny the information published in some media of the Moroccan press that a certificate was sent from my club. This is false, no certificate was sent simply because I am not injured,” said Benatia in an irritated voice.
“I’m fine alhamdulillah [praise God]. When a player is injured, he must come to have his injury validated by the national team doctor, but that is not my case. So, stop lying, stop inventing things because I am fed up,” he added.
Benatia, who has been sitting on the bench since the beginning of the season, August 18, explained that he also wanted to focus on his career with Juventus.
At the end of his video, the Juventus player wished good luck to the Atlas Lions who will compete against Malawi on September 8 in Casablanca as part of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.