Amadou Onana of Everton will have to wait until the next World Cup in four years for another opportunity to make a true and proper impact for his nation, because the Belgians' 2022 World Cup hopes are dashed, slashed, and completely over now. Belgium finished third on the Group F table, behind second-place Croatia whom they drew with on Thursday, and one of the great shocks of the tournament so far, Morocco. The Atlas Lions are top of the table, and with it, those many Belgian names and CV’s were forced out of Qatar and this world cup from this group, alongside the often hapless young Canadian squad.
While the match played out to a 0-0 draw, to watch the match was to appreciate it, as well as the nuances of this wonderful game we all love. Croatia thought they had a foul in the box against Yannick Carrasco fairly early on in the match, but VAR demonstrated that the move that spawned the penalty was offsides to begin with, sparing Belgium that hardship. However, before Big Rom made it onto the pitch in the second half, there were many opportunities for the Red Devils to score a goal, and many times where the team looked like it needed Romelu Lukaku in the position where the ball was going - only he wasn’t there.
When he did eventually make his way in to begin the second half, he missed a few chances to steal points and a spot in the next round from Croatia, only to fail to do so, including one rather late in the match, were the ball was perhaps a foot out from goal and any real amount of force with his chest or legs could have sent the ball past the goal line with relative ease. In other words, Belgium lost the way they have so often seemed to lose during this tournament - maddeningly.
While Belgium has one of the best amalgamations of players that any team could ask for, they proved to have one of the worst teams that came to Qatar to play football. The blame for that has to go - to some degree - the boss, for while the players go on the pitch to compete, they do so with the outline and plan that their boss has worked on with them. Roberto Martinez had what was known as the Golden Generation on his hands, and while positive things have been accomplished by many of those players and him as a boss, major silverware was left upon the table and that will be hard for everyone back across Belgium to stomach to be sure.