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Martinez proud to lead Belgium

Roberto Martinez said he is proud to be leading such a talented group of players as he prepares to make his bow as Belgium coach.

Despite previously reaching top spot in the FIFA world rankings, Belgium flattered to deceive at Euro 2016, losing to Wales in the quarter-finals before Marc Wilmots was sacked.

Martinez admitted achieving something that has never been done before is difficult, but he is confident the group can go on to win a major tournament ahead of Thursday’s international friendly against Spain, before facing Cyprus in a World Cup qualifier five days later.

“The individual talent, as we all know, it’s a very gifted generation and as a manager or coach, you feel proud to be with this group,” Martinez told reporters.

“Everyone is allowed to impress, everyone is allowed to have a big role with the Red Devils going forward.”

Martinez, with Thierry Henry as assistant and Eden Hazard to wear the captain’s armband against Spain, added: “When I say about the mentality, the hardest thing in football is to achieve something that you’ve never done.

“When you sit down in a group like this and we say we’re going to try to win a big tournament, if you’ve never done it before you can’t get guidance or get that inspiration from somewhere.

“So obviously it’s a fresh start. I think the competition for places and for roles in the Red Devils will give us that intensity that we need in our work. It’s a completely fresh start going to the Cyprus game.”

As for Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, he is relishing the Martinez era with the national team.

“I believe that now is a new beginning for us. We are ready to start. We can see that the trainings are different. I think everyone is ready to play. But of course, we’ve trained only three days so we will not see a big change,” he said.

“I believe we must have a better tactical organisation. When we play against other teams, we didn’t always know how to adapt. We did not always know how to play. We also need a winning mentality.”

Thu 1 Sep, 2016
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