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Belgium close to major final – Pfaff

Belgium are close to reaching either a World Cup or European Championship final, according to former goalkeeper Jean-Marie Pfaff.

Marc Wilmots’ side have risen to third in the FIFA rankings, having reached the quarter-finals at Brazil 2014 before losing to eventual runners-up Argentina.

In the likes of Eden Hazard, Thibaut Courtois and Vincent Kompany, the European nation have plenty of talent.

Pfaff, capped 64 times by Belgium, praised Wilmots and said the coach had the players at his disposal to challenge for major honours.

Worryingly for Belgium, though, Wilmots has been contacted by Schalke about the Bundesliga club’s vacant coaching position.

“Wilmots was a great player for Belgian teams, Bordeaux and Schalke. He knows all the nonsense. He tells everybody how things are supposed to be done,” Pfaff told Perform.

“He has a steady grip on the team. A team like Belgium needs that. The young players have to do what the coach says and not what everybody else says.

“Belgium is third in the world right now. They passed Holland. Deservedly so.

“If the young players stay healthy there could be a World or European Cup final – Belgium versus Germany.

“Belgium already lost one final against Germany [2-1 to West Germany at Euro 1980 – a match in which Pfaff featured], so next time it’s our turn. It could happen.”

Pfaff said the depth in Belgium’s squad meant they could be genuine contenders.

The 61-year-old former Bayern Munich shot-stopper, who featured for Belgium from 1976-1987, said Wilmots had strong cover all over the pitch.

“We have good players on every position, we have three or four really good goalkeepers, but only one can play. In defence Marc Wilmots has for every positions a minimum of three players,” he added.

“In the past, we didn’t have that. We had six, seven players, maybe two goalkeepers. And if one player was injured, we were in trouble.

“So the core is much more bigger, and all our Belgian national players don’t play in Belgium, they all play abroad, and in what leagues: in England [Premier League], in Germany [Bundesliga] and in other countries.

“They all play for really good clubs. To play for such a club, you have to be a good player. Otherwise you will not play for Chelsea, Manchester or elsewhere.”

Belgium currently top Group B in qualifying for Euro 2016 but are level on points with Wales, who host Wilmots’ side next week.

Wed 3 Jun, 2015
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