BRUSSELS – The Belgian press were paying tribute on Wednesday to their national soccer team following their defeat to France in the World Cup semifinal.
Belgium were eliminated from the tournament by their neighbors to the south after Samuel Umtiti rose highest at the near post to head in the game’s only goal in Saint Petersburg on Tuesday night.
Despite the disappointment of losing by such a narrow margin, the French-speaking Walloon and the Dutch-speaking Flemish media were unified in their praise of the national team, and only had messages of thanks for the Red Devils.
French-language daily “Le Soir” highlighted the narrow margins involved at the late stages of the tournament, pointing to the “small goal” which ended the country’s dreams of reaching a first ever World Cup final.
“La Libre Belgique,” meanwhile, focused on Belgium’s missed opportunity against an evenly matched France team.
“The regrets could be eternal in our small kingdom,” the newspaper wrote, pointing out that many of the squad will be well past their prime the next time around in 2022.
Flemish publication “De Morgen” focused on Belgium’s relative lack of experience against a hard-nosed and well-drilled France team which came out to stifle Belgium’s high-powered attack.
The newspaper also praised coach Roberto Martinez, describing his as the “man who taught Belgians to dream” having fulfilled his promise upon taking charge two years ago; to produce a united team which plays beautiful football and of which the country could be proud.
Overall, the Belgian press refelcted on the “adventure” with overwhelming positivity and gratitude for the squad, who are sure to be welcomed home as heroes.
“For a few weeks, Belgium was turned into the coolest country in world football. It may be little more than an honorary title, but it was great to experience it. Thank you!,” La Libre Belgique concluded.