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Belgium’s Martinez proud and England’s Southgate realistic after 3rd place play-off

Update: July, 15/2018 - 07:00
Fans cheer prior to the 2018 FIFA World Cup third place play-off match between England and Belgium in Saint Petersburg, Russia, on Saturday. Belgium defeated England 2-0 and won the third place of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. — XINHUA/VNA Photo
Viet Nam News

ST. PETERSBURG — Belgium coach Roberto Martinez was able to celebrate leading his side to their best ever finish after goals from Thomas Meunier and Eden Hazard gave them a 2-0 win over England in the third-place play-off here on Saturday.

"I think the biggest achievement with this group is that we have become a team, a coach always thinks you don’t have the players long enough, but we have had a group of players who have been committed as a team. You have not heard anyone speak about anything that was not the team," said Martinez, who looked over his side’s achievements in a World Cup in which they won 6 out of 7 games, scoring 16 goals in the process.

"We have scored the biggest number of goals for Belgium in a World Cup and had 10 different scorers, which is also a record. We have been a team and that is what has made me proudest," he commented. Martinez said the challenge now was to ensure the younger generation are able to step forward in the near future.

"These players have set a new standard in the national team, now we need to bring success in younger groups: we need to see Under-21’s challenge for trophies and other ages groups do the same."

"We need to create competition for places in the next two years, but we have set standards on an off the pitch which need to be continued," he said.

England’s Gareth Southgate was disappointed with the defeat, but refused to criticise his players, reminding those in the press conference that no other England side had gone as far in a major competition away from home as this.

"As a manager your job is to support the players an inspire them, to give them the best way to be successful, its not about you, it’s about the team, the staff and the fans. Today was always going to be really difficult."

"We played one of the best teams in the World with individual talent and we have just two days to prepare for it," he commented, explaining the team had not been able to train properly following Wednesday’s semifinal.

"In the end we are proud of what we have done and under no illusions about what we need to do; we have finished in the final four, but we are not a top-four team yet and we know that," said Southgate, who also said he knew "exactly the places where we have to get better". 

"Today is the seventh game in a short period of time, we have had incredible demands and it would be wrong to demand any more from our players today. I am immensely proud of all of the players and they should be proud of themselves," he concluded. — XINHUA

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