Roberto Martinez admits Canada ‘were better’ but backs Belgium to ‘grow in’ World Cup

Roberto Martinez admits Canada ‘were better’ but backs Belgium to ‘grow in’ World Cup

Belgium coach Roberto Martinez admitted Canada “were better” than his side as they struggled to a 1-0 World Cup opener win.

The Red Devils weren’t very convincing and had to thank a combination of goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and Canadian talisman Alphonso Davies for the three points.

Davies had his early penalty saved by the Real Madrid goalkeeper after Canada made a very good start.

Bad performance by the Belgians, who don’t bother too much since they did what Argentina, Germany, Denmark and Croatia failed to do: win.

Martinez admitted his team was second best against the Canadians, but he believes his senior players will thrive in the tournament.

“It was such a difficult match today, Canada were better than us at what we wanted to do,” said Martinez.

“They came to the tournament with an incredible party, great emotion, what we expected. This Canadian team has a lot of pace and immediacy.

“To be honest, we had to show another side of our game.

“I’m very happy because we won the game with determination and experience, thanks to the quality of our goalkeeper who kept us in the game by saving the penalty, so many elements. Winning today is more important than when you play well.

“Canada deserved to be better than us in the way they played. I think the result reflects the things we had to do and the way we stood up for each other and used our chance.

“It’s a victory and we have to play better and grow. We’ve been here for five days, we have to grow with these games. Many top level teams are losing matches.

“This tournament will make you develop and grow as the tournament goes on. If you do that by winning matches, that’s an incredible advantage.

“We didn’t win today with our normal talent and quality on the ball, but you don’t win in the World Cup if you don’t do the other side of the game.

“We have to be realistic, we have to play well, but when a team can win without playing well, that’s a lot to build on.”

Canada coach John Herdman was a “proud” man after the game but regrets his team failed to seize the opportunity to top Group F.

“I’m proud of the performance, but you have to take three points in your first game,” he said.

“We had the opportunity to be top of the pack tonight – that was the mission and we missed it, but I’m proud of the performance.

“These guys have made a change, they’ve proven they can live on this stage. They made the fans proud and made them feel like they belonged here and that was important to us. I showed them the stats and showed them they belong here.

“Croatia is our next mission. I lost my first match at the 2012 London Olympics and then we won our first medal in 86 years, so that’s how we respond now. With this conviction and holding close to the brotherhood, we have a chance.

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