The Red Devils, already qualified, shared the stake on the lawn of Wales for their last qualifying match for the 2022 World Cup. Roberto Martinez had the opportunity to give less experienced youngsters some playing time and offered their first selection to Theate and Vanzeir.
If the Devils do not end their qualifying campaign with a victory, Roberto Martinez was still satisfied with the performance of his players as he explained to Pierre Deprez: « We wanted to win but we wanted to win thanks to our performance and our performance was good. I’m proud to see so many inexperienced players able to adapt. We showed a lot of courage in a hostile atmosphere. The problem is our goal conceded because we have not controlled the situation in our rectangle. But that’s why we play these types of matches. Other than that the performance was really good. We have never left our personality behind. We played under pressure. Between the two rectangles we were really good but we missed a little something in the last gesture. I’m glad we finished these qualifiers unbeaten. We are on a series of 25 wins and 3 draws over the last three qualifying campaigns. Today we have a group of young players who have shown that the future of Belgian football is bright« .
The national coach still saw a difference in level between the first and the second period: « The tempo was a little lower. Physically, it may have gone downhill a bit with some players. But it’s also because of the other team. At home, with their public, they put a little more intensity. But I think we finished well and that the players who went up brought something. But that’s understandable, it was the second game in four days for some. The tempo may drop a bit. But we get more positives than negatives from this game« .
The Spanish technician still appreciated the overall attitude of his players: « We have really been a team. When you see the number of changes and again, with Arthur in particular, Charles, they adapted very well. Dante is well mounted too. The performance of Vanaken, of De Bruyne, who really performed as a captain. I can continue. Koen Casteels always answers present, we needed him in the last five minutes of the match. Dedryck Boyata, which has been stitched up, and which wins all aerial duels. Individually I can congratulate everyone and we really played as a team. It’s a shame not to have been able to keep a clean sheet« .
He also returned to the performance of the newcomers, who made a good impression on him: « I think it is clear that they are ready. Charles, the way he turns around, the errands he does, the connection he has with Hans, Kevin and Axel in the middle is really special. I think they will complicate my choices for Qatar. There are probably 42 players who are competing and working hard. It is a good position for them even though they are still very young. Charles and Arthur could still play with the U21s so we’ll take the time and make sure they go through this phase of development. But you can see today that they are ready to push for this position« .
The « bad » news of the evening is that Belgium could lose its place of world number 1 in the FIFA rankings if Brazil defeat Argentina. But the situation does not worry Roberto Martinez who has other goals in mind: « It doesn’t matter if Brazil overtakes us. The important information is the amount of time we spent as number 1. It’s bound to happen because CONMEBOL has more matches than us in January so if it isn’t now, it will happen. in January. The goal for us has changed. The goal is to go to the World Cup in the best possible shape. We want to become world champions. Being number 1 in the world has been a fantastic time. We are the third team to have remained number 1 for the longest time but it would be small arms to think only of being number 1 in the world for as long as possible and not to develop our players and create a competitive team to be as ready as possible. at the World Cup« .
One thing is certain, Roberto Martinez has rarely displayed so frankly his desire to win a trophy with the Red Devils.