Wilmots: Belgium have to prove worth
Belgium’s “Golden Generation” have proved nothing yet despite reaching the World Cup, coach Marc Wilmots has told kicker.
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Wilmots is in charge of a highly talented group of players including the likes of Eden Hazard, Thibaut Courtois and Vincent Kompany and some rate the Red Devils as potential dark horses for this summer’s tournament.
However, Wilmots knows that -- despite Belgium qualifying for a major tournament for the first time since the 2002 World Cup -- his players still have everything to prove.
“I have seen many so-called 'Golden Generations' who have won absolutely nothing,” the former Schalke player told the German football weekly. “Our sole success so far has been the qualification for the World Cup. Nothing more. On the pitch in Brazil we will see the truth.”
Belgium have been drawn against Algeria, South Korea and Russia in Group H, and Wilmots feels his side should progress to the knockout stage.
“I am not a coach, who says, “We can win the World Cup!” -- but it also clear that, as it stands today, I would be disappointed should we not make the last 16,” he said.
“Normally, Russia and Belgium should make it out of our group. But what is normal in football? Anything can happen from the last-16 on. It’s down to the details, maybe even coincidences -- refereeing decisions, hitting the woodwork and other things you can’t influence. Ten to 12 teams can reach the final. Nobody can forecast who will do it in the end.”
Belgium were dealt an injury blow in early April when Aston Villa attacker Christian Benteke suffered a torn Achilles tendon that will keep him on the sidelines for a minimum of six months.
Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku, currently on loan at Everton, scored twice when filling in for Benteke in the 2-1 victory over Croatia that secured qualification for the World Cup, but Wilmots revealed he may instead field Hazard as his main attacker.
Asked about Benteke’s injury, Wilmots said: “We don’t have another attacker like him. He is 1.90 metres tall, strong in the air, a technical player, versatile. Christian has it all.
“We need to replace Christian at the World Cup -- maybe by moving Hazard into central attack, maybe by changing the system. All of Belgium is discussing this right now. But I don’t read anything, because I know what I’ll be doing.”