Belgium part company with Marc Wilmots after Euro 2016 failure

Brussels (AFP) – Belgium have parted company with coach Marc Wilmots after a below-par Euro 2016 where they suffered quarter-final elimination to Wales, federation president Francois De Keesmaecker said on Friday.

With top-quality players throughout the side such as goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and midfielders Eden Hazard and Kevin de Bruyn, hopes for Europe’s top-rated side were sky high going into Euro 2016 in France.

“Our target was at least the semi-finals,” De Keesmaecker said.

Instead, an opening day defeat to Italy and elimination to outsiders Wales in the quarter-finals exposed a collective weakness.

“This group should be capable of much better results at a big tournament,” De Keesmaecker told a press conference in Brussels. “We did not achieve our objectives at this Euro. We need a fresh start.”

Wilmots also oversaw the side that were beaten by Argentina in the quarter-finals at the 2014 World Cup and his charges were second only to Argentina in the FIFA rankings going into the Euros.

Known as a hard man, Wilmots, a box-to-box midfielder in his youth, is one of the rare players to have featured at four World Cups. 

In 51 matches at the helm Wilmots oversaw 34 wins, nine defeats and eight draws.

“When you are talked about among one of the teams who can win a tournament, and you lose in the quarter-finals twice in two years, of course it leaves a bad taste in your mouth,” Wilmots said after the Wales result.

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