Belgium exit World Cup 'with heads held high', says Martinez
Belgium's Spanish coach Roberto Martinez reacts during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group F football match between Croatia and Belgium at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al-Rayyan, west of Doha on December 1, 2022. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP)

DOHA, Qatar (AFP)— Belgium coach Roberto Martinez said his team would leave the World Cup with their "heads held high" despite being dumped out in the group stage after a goalless draw with Croatia on Thursday.

The world's second-ranked side were left to rue a series of missed gilt-edged chances by Romelu Lukaku in the second half as they went out after scoring only one goal in three Group F matches.

"Today we were ready, we created opportunities and today there is no regrets," said Martinez.

"We're out but we can leave with our heads held high.

"You see Youri Tielemans and other young players -- the golden generation is doing something that is bringing the next generation on. It's not what names are on the pitch. The legacy can be left in many ways."

Belgium finished third in their group behind Croatia and Morocco who backed up their surprise 2-0 win over the Red Devils by beating Canada 2-1.

"We wanted to get through but I'm sure the other national teams wanted to get through and that's the tournament," added Martinez.

"In the previous World Cup we won three games in the group stage. We wanted to go all the way."

Lukaku was not fit enough to start any of the games and Belgium were reliant on several ageing stars who could not produce their best form.

But Martinez refused to discuss his future as coach.

"Now is not the moment," he said.

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