Martinez rues 'huge disappointment' after Belgium crash out of World Cup

By Sports Desk December 01, 2022 242

Departing Belgium head coach Roberto Martinez revealed his "huge disappointment" after the Red Devils crashed out of the World Cup.

The world's second-ranked side suffered a surprise elimination in Qatar after finishing third in Group F following a goalless draw with Croatia.

It brought the curtain down on a poor tournament for 2018 semi-finalists Belgium, who struggled past Canada in their opening game before suffering a shock defeat by eventual group winners Morocco.

The Croatia stalemate also spelt the end for Martinez, who confirmed his departure as Belgium head coach after six years in the role.

"We were ourselves today," he reflected. "We had very good performances and frustrated Croatia in the first half, but couldn't take chances in the second half.

"We got in very good positions, but didn't execute them well. Second half, we looked strong and probably created more clear-cut chances than in 2018.

"We showed heart, and we saw a group that really cares, which we missed in previous two games - we weren't ourselves [in the first two games].

"Due to quality and experience, we won the first game [against Canada], but we were not ourselves. Today was completely different.

"Morocco was disappointing, and we're out of the World Cup because margins are small - there's no margin for error. Morocco took their chances and Croatia now rightly progress through. It's a huge disappointment for us."

Martinez also explained his reasons for Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard, who was only introduced in the 87th minute at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, starting Belgium's must-win showdown on the bench.

It came after a tumultuous week, in which he dismissed reports of a rift within the camp as "fake news" at his pre-match news conference.

"Lukaku couldn't play the 90. We saw in the second half, he lacked physicality," Martinez said. 

"We used him where there were bigger gaps and got him in the box. He moved well and got in good positions, but missed chances.

"I'm happy with the way we planned for this game. The players that started gave us what we wanted, and then we could have scored three goals in second half, and it would have been a different story.

"We were here for seven games and couldn't take a risk on players, it would not have been responsible to play [Lukaku] from the start, same with Eden Hazard."

Much of the discussion surrounding Belgium's underwhelming campaign in Qatar has focused on the ageing of a so-called 'golden generation' of players, with Kevin De Bruyne stating the Red Devils' squad was "too old" ahead of the finals.

Defender Toby Alderweireld insisted the senior players within the squad are yet to make a decision on their futures.

"I think as a team, you have to take the responsibility," he added. "I think we played a very good game. We could have won.

"I think we lost the qualification in the last game against Morocco. If we didn't lose this game, it was a total different game. This is the reality. It hurts.

"It's not every year that there's a tournament. We'll see what everyone is doing, but I think it's too close to the last game to decide.

"Everyone goes home now, goes to their club and decides what they're going to do. This hurts, it's normal, but decisions are not made after the game."

Rate this item
(0 votes)
Last modified on Thursday, 01 December 2022 16:06
© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.