Monday, September 24, 2018 | ePaper

Belgium's golden generation fall short again at World Cup

  • Print


Belgium assistant coach Thierry Henry consoles Eden Hazard at the end of the semifinal match between France and Belgium at the 2018 soccer World Cup at the St. Petersburg Stadium in St. Petersburg, Russia on Tuesday.

AP, St. Petersburg :
Belgium's golden generation has come up short at a major tournament. Again.
With Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard in fantastic form creating chances for themselves and Romelu Lukaku up front, Vincent Kompany fit again at the heart of the defense and Thibaut Courtois standing tall in goal, these Red Devils racked up more goals than any other team in the World Cup. Through five matches, it looked as if they could finally deliver on their promise.
But with their King Philippe watching from the stands, there was to be no coronation.
After reaching the World Cup semifinals for the first time since 1986, Roberto Martinez's talent-packed team lost 1-0 to France on Tuesday at St. Petersburg Stadium on a Samuel Umtiti second-half header from a corner kick.
"Damn set piece, that's all I can say," Kompany said.
A Belgium team featuring many of the same stars lost 1-0 to Argentina in the World Cup quarterfinal four years ago and then was shocked 3-1 by Wales in the European Championship quarterfinals two years ago.
Even through the first 30 minutes in St. Petersburg, this side had looked different, carving out chances and containing France's counterattacks.
"We had more chances today, we had more control of the match," Kompany said. "We weren't in control two years ago against Argentina."
But the potent Belgian attack gradually faded as France's rock-solid defense handed Belgium its first shutout of the tournament.
Instead of playing Sunday in Moscow for its first World Cup, Belgium will be back in St. Petersburg on Saturday, playing in the third-place match and wondering if its championship window has closed.
Belgium's beaten players did not want to talk about the end of an era - not with stars like 27-year-old De Bruyne, 26-year-old Courtois and 25-year-old Lukaku in the team and more coming through the youth ranks.
"Generations. Who talks about generations?" De Bruyne said. "We are a small country. We can be very happy and lucky that we can have the team what we have. We don't have the resources, the infrastructure, the money that other countries have. What we have is a really good team that performed really well."
The last time a Belgium team got this far at the World Cup, it lost 2-0 to Argentina at the 1986 tournament in Mexico. A pair of Diego Maradona second-half goals sank Belgium that day.
Long considered the a lesser footballing nation than its neighbor the Netherlands - whose orange-clad teams have reached three World Cup finals and lost them all - this Belgium team has at least dispelled the Dutch shadow.
Kompany, an injury-prone 32-year-old who may well have played his last World Cup in Russia, believes that, despite the loss, the class of 2018 has done his nation a favor.
"Generations come and go," Kompany said. "For Belgian football I think eventually there will still be an opportunity to do well. It allows the country to be more ambitious and believe in its own talent. So maybe for the future we've still done something good for Belgian football."
Martinez didn't talk about the end of an era, but he was already looking to the future after the match.
"As it happens in any big tournament, you need to look at the younger generations and try to become stronger," he said. "From tournament to tournament, that's the drive and the ambition."

More News For this Category

 Bangladesh emerge group champions beating Vietnam 2-0

Bangladesh emerge group champions beating Vietnam 2-0

Hosts Bangladesh emerged Group F champions with all-win record to reach the 2nd round of the AFC U-16 Women's Championship beating upper ranked Vietnam by 2-0 goals in the last

Spanish football should be proud of foreign interest, says La Liga official

"The world is our playing field," says an inscription on the wall at La Liga's headquarters in Madrid, written in Spanish: "El mundo es nuestro campo de juego."It seems an

Matic donates €70,000 to help 4-year old fan with cancer treatment

Matic donates €70,000 to help 4-year old fan with cancer treatment

Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic is known for his footballing skills all across the world. But the 30-year-old recently showed his humane side after it was reported by Serbian news

Players of United Arab Emirates Under-16 Women's Football team celebrating after beating Bahrain Under-16 Women's Football team by one goal to nil in their match of the AFC Under-16 Women's Qualifiers at the Bir Shreshtha Shaheed Sepoy Mohammad Mostafa Kamal Stadium in the city's Kamalapur on Sunday.

Players of United Arab Emirates Under-16 Women's Football team celebrating after beating Bahrain Under-16 Women's Football team by one goal to nil in their match of the AFC Under-16 Women's Qualifiers at the Bir Shreshtha Shaheed Sepoy Mohammad Mostafa Kamal Stadium in the city's Kamalapur on Sunday.

Team World storms back to cut Europe's lead at Laver Cup

AFP, Chicago :Kevin Anderson avenged a Wimbledon finals loss to Novak Djokovic as Team World dominated the night session Saturday to climb back into contention at the 2018 Laver Cup.Anderson's

James stars as Bayern maintain perfect Bundesliga start

James Rodriguez shone for Bayern Munich with a goal, then won a penalty, as the German champions made it four wins from their first four Bundesliga games with a 2-0

Bangladesh face Vietnam in AFC U-16 Women's Championship today

High flying Bangladesh U-16 women's football team face their Vietnamese counterpart in their fourth and final group F match of the AFC U-16 Women's Championship Qualifiers scheduled to be held

Tabarez renews with Uruguay until Qatar World Cup

Tabarez renews with Uruguay until Qatar World Cup

AFP, Montevideo :Despite failing health the veteran coach Oscar Tabarez has signed a four-year contract extension to remain at the Uruguay helm until the end of the 2022 World Cup

Out-of-favour Cahill says he may have to quit Chelsea

AP, London :Former England defender Gary Cahill, who has won every major club trophy since joining Chelsea from Bolton in 2012, is likely to ask the London team for a

Sassuolo 2nd in Serie A after 3-1 win over Empoli

AP, RomeSassuolo moved into second place in Serie A with a 3-1 comeback win over Empoli on Friday.After Empoli's Francesco Caputo scored just 18 seconds in, Sassuolo responded with goals