Belgium got disqualified from the World Cup on Thursday, December 1st after being held to a 0-0 draw against Croatia in their final Group F match.
Meanwhile, five members of the World Cup favorites Belgium booked an earlier flight to return to their home after an abrupt eviction from the tournament following the splits in the team’s camp.
Thomas Meunier, Axel Witsel, Jeremy Doku, Arthur Theate, and Lois Openda paid for flights at their own expense, according to Het Laatste Nieuws.
Despite having football stars such as Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne, Real Madrid’s Hazard and Thibaut Courtois and Inter Milan forward Romelu Lukaku, Belgium failed to qualify from the group stage for the first time since 1998.
The Red Devils World Cup tournament has been plagued by reports of in-fighting after Manchester City’s De Bruyne created unrest within the camp via his controversial statement during the first week in Qatar.
Ahead of Belgium’s match against Morocco, De Bruyne wrote off the nation’s chances of success in Qatar, alleging that Roberto Martinez’s squad was ‘too old to make any notable impact.
Roberto Martinez’s team was not able to repeat their heroics display in Russia 2018 where the Red Devils finished third in the competition.
This time, amid frequent reports of dressing room altercations, Martinez men could only finish third in Group F behind African giant Morocco and Croatia, who disqualified them with a 0-0 draw on Thursday, December 1st.
The second-best side against Canada, struggled to hit a 1-0 victory in their opener, thanks to a Thibaut Courtois penalty save and a Michy Batshuayi brilliant finish.
Thereafter, they were deservedly beaten 2-0 by Morocco in their second fixture which left Belgium essentially in need of a victory against Croatia but they were not able to achieve that.
Among the five Belgium players who reportedly left Qatar, Courtois and Hazard are the first Madrid stars to make their way to Doha airport among the other 14 Real Madrid players selected by their national teams for this World Cup competition.
Meanwhile, Belgium’s unfortunate journey in this World Cup marks the end of the World Cup careers of several members of the nation’s ‘golden generation.’
Belgium’s starting eleven against Croatia had an average age of 31 years, being the oldest to play a World Cup match since 2010.
Eden Hazard, Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld, and Dries Mertens, were among several Belgian players who may not feature in the 2026 World Cup as they are already over the age of 31.
Moreover, this tournament marked the end of coach Martinez’s six years as the manager in charge of the national team following his wish to step down as the team’s head coach.
In a statement, the Belgian FA thanked the Spaniard coach, Martinez for his six years of service but revealed their disappointment over crashing out at the group stage in Qatar.
The statement reads: “We are extremely disappointed after the early exit of our national team at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar because we have failed and thereby let down the people of Belgium who supported our team all the way through.
“An era and a cycle have come to an end. Today the ways of our coach Roberto Martinez and the Royal Belgian FA will part.
“We are very grateful and proud that we have worked with Roberto Martinez for more than six years.”
Roberto Martinez has coached Belgium since 2016 and during his term, he led them to the World Cup semi-finals in Russia in 2018 and the Euro quarter-finals in 2020.