Roberto Martinez defends Belgium tactics after shock World Cup defeat to Morocco – ‘That’s not the issue’


Belgium’s defensive set-up wasn’t the reason for their shock World Cup defeat to Morocco, manager Roberto Martinez has insisted.

The Belgians are ranked No. 2 in the FIFA rankings, 20 places above Morocco, but suffered a deserved 2-0 loss in their meeting in Doha on Sunday.

Abdelhamid Sabiri scored the opener in the 73rd minute by whipping a free-kick in at the near post from a tight angle, catching out Real Madrid keeper Thibaut Courtois.

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It was a similar strike to that of Hakim Ziyech’s in the first-half, which also squirmed past Courtois, but on that occasion the goal was disallowed for offside.

But Martinez insisted there was no problem with his team’s defensive strategy.

“It’s a difficult result because the first goal affected the outcome a lot. It’s a dead ball situation, we couldn’t get our game going and it’s a game that we need to understand,” he said.

“We need to be together and react in the next game. That’s what happens in the World Cup.

“The way we defended the goal is the way we have been defending free kicks for six years, that’s not the issue. It’s a good ball in, it’s nothing to do with the set-up.”

Belgium were below par in their opening game against Canada too, but managed to squeeze out a 1-0 win.

Their hopes of progressing to the last 16 will now hang on their final Group F game against Croatia.

“I think we had good moments but we couldn’t get clear-cut chances, we only had a couple of half opportunities and if you allow that goal to be conceded then it changes the game radically,” Martinez said.

“At the moment we conceded the goal we lost our composure too much and we couldn’t get ourselves back in the final third with more thought.

“We knew Morocco were getting bodies behind the ball and we couldn’t break them down. The game went away from us the moment we conceded the goal.

“We need to make sure that we get stronger together and we’ll get ready for the third game.”

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