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Monday 6 February 2023 Dublin: 9°C
PA Roberto Martinez consoles his players after the final whistle today.
# End of the road
Belgium boss Martinez to leave job after early World Cup exit
‘That was my last game with the national team, I can’t carry on.’

BELGIUM COACH ROBERTO Martinez said he was leaving his job after his side were eliminated from the World Cup in Qatar following a 0-0 draw with Croatia.

The 49-year-old had been in charge since 2016 and his contract was due to run out after the tournament.

“That was my last game with the national team, I can’t carry on,” Martinez said at his post-match press conference. “It’s the time for me to accept that this is the last game.”

Martinez led Belgium to a third-place finish at the 2018 World Cup in Russia and to the Euro 2020 quarter-finals last year.

But his ageing side could not replicate that form in Qatar, crashing out after scoring just one goal in three games.

The Spaniard said he was always planning to leave after the World Cup.

“That was the end, whatever would happen, whether we were world champions, whether we went out in the group stage,” he said.

“It’s got nothing to do with being eliminated in the group stage.

“Since 2018 I had many opportunities to leave, take jobs at club level, but I wanted to be loyal. I don’t resign, it’s the end of my contract.”

Belgium went into their final group F game needing to win to be certain of reaching the last 16 after a 1-0 win over Canada and a 2-0 loss to Morocco.

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They were left to rue a string of missed late chances by the injury-hit Romelu Lukaku.

“Today, if we would’ve gone through I think we would’ve seen the real Belgium and we could’ve been very competitive in the next rounds,” insisted Martinez.

“The disappointment was against Morocco. Today we were ourselves, we played a very good opposition…. The first two games we weren’t ourselves.”

– © AFP 2022

For the latest news coverage on the Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022, see here >

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