The fuss over the One Love captain’s armband was also a major topic in Qatar on Monday. Belgian captain Eden Hazard will also not be wearing that band on Wednesday. Thomas Meunier explained this option: “We follow the point of view of the Federation, but all criticism comes too late anyway.”
About One Love: “Here we have to abide by the rules of FIFA and Qatar”
Belgium, along with a handful of other countries, will relinquish the One Love captain’s armband. This news came on Monday. “It was the assembly’s decision,” Thomas Meunier explained to Robin van Gucht and Eddie Snilders.
“It is no longer possible for us to wear the bracelet, because now there are also sporting penalties attached to it. That was a shock to me. It’s a shame that we got yellow for wearing a badge.”
“Can’t a national coach wear the band?” Snilders suggests. “There’s always a solution,” Meunier replies, “and that’s not the problem.” He added, “But from here you have to abide by the rules of FIFA and Qatar. The problem started with awarding the World Cup to Qatar.”
We also know he’s a bit hypocritical. But at a certain point, we better keep quiet and focus better on football.
“We also know that it is a bit hypocritical to pull our tail now, from the moment there are penalties attached. But at a certain point, it is better not to say anything and just focus on football. Anyway, all the criticism comes in hindsight.”
Does the topic live within the players group? “We talked about it with the players over lunch. Our idea was to follow the federation. If the federation changes its stance, we have to follow.”
On competition with Castagne: “We have the same profile”
Two days before the game against Canada, football was of course also discussed. Meunier is on the right flank in the balance with Timothy Castagne, his close friend. “Timothy is a big guy. But on the field we are competitive, we have to help each other to get better.”
Meunier is back in shape again after breaking his cheekbone. Is he ready to play? “I’ve been out for three weeks, but I’ve played everything before in Dortmund. The question is what criteria does the coach use to make a decision: goals, assists, minutes played, physical readiness…”
“Castagne and I have a similar profile, the choice is up to Roberto Martinez. It’s also an option to put Timothy on the left and myself on the right.”
When Meunier gets down to business, he’ll be with Zorro’s mask.
Things went better after the break in the losing training bowl against Egypt, Castagne noted, because the wing-backs had players in front of them with Dooku and Mertens creeping in even less. For example, they had to walk fewer meters themselves. “This also benefits our combination game,” Meunier asserts.
“The problem with Kevin or Eden is that they are playmakers, they always want to run all over the place. For me it’s a little bit easier when I’m playing with someone who stays in position. When I’m in possession I also want to have attacking options.”
“Now we’re tactically fine-tuning in training. It’s important that we work on our positional play, with the right timing and coverage. There’s a lot of work to do. It’s just a matter of the coach’s guidance. Possession of the ball can then improvise a bit more.”
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