Belgium coach Roberto Martinez has hailed Kevin De Bruyne as “the best playmaker in the world” after he scored one goal and set up three more in their 4-0 win over Scotland.
This was in Euro 2020 qualifying match on Monday.
Belgium was without injured captain Eden Hazard but his absence went unnoticed as the world’s top ranked team turned in a slick, overwhelming performance, going 3-0 up by halftime.
With six wins from six games in Group I, the Belgians need just two points from their remaining four matches to be sure of a place at next year’s finals.
“For me, he is the best playmaker in the world,” said Martinez. “Playmakers dictate the tempo, give perfect passes and they take responsibility. He did all of that against Scotland.”
Martinez also said he was glad to see other players step up and lead the way with Hazard out injured.
“I was really pleased with the performances of our experienced players particularly because Eden Hazard was not here.
“They had to take over the leadership and show by example, and I thought Jan Vertonghen did that perfectly, he’s a really strong leader.”
Despite the praise being heaped upon De Bruyne’s shoulders, the Manchester City man played down his performance.
“I didn’t play a world class match, I just did my job,” he told reporters.
“When your career is over, then you can look back at what you did. But at this moment I just want to win matches.”
Belgium, three points ahead of Russia in their group, will face San Marino in Brussels on Oct. 10. (Reuters/)
Edited by Remi Koleoso/Muhammad Suleiman Tola
Belgian FA confirms contract extension for Martinez
The contract of Belgian national team manager Roberto Martinez has been extended, officials confirmed on Wednesday, more than a fortnight after it was first reported.
Martinez will stay until the end of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
According to the Belgian Football Association, in a statement on Wednesday, he will also act as the technical director of the association.
“Talk about a renewal of the current contract of the national manager, which ends on June 30, has been going on for some time and each time in a particularly constructive atmosphere,” it said.
“The coronavirus crisis delayed the process somewhat, but the contract extension is now confirmed and official.
“This allows Roberto Martinez to continue his work, lay the foundation for the future of Belgian football and train his successor to take over after the 2022 World Cup.”
Martinez, whose contract was up after this year’s European Championship, which has been shifted back a year because of the coronavirus crisis, is due to address a news conference later on Wednesday.
But the 46-year-old added in the same statement: “Because of the Euro 2020 postponement we could not possibly end our collaboration already now.
“The Belgian FA has an ambitious plan that I look forward to with great enthusiasm, both in the short and long term.
“The next two and a half years will be very intense for our national team, with the European Championship, Nations League, 2020 World Cup qualifying matches and the World Cup in Qatar itself.
“I can only be happy and proud that I can continue working and prepare the future of Belgian football.”
Martinez had already said in interviews over the last month he wanted to continue in charge in order to take Belgium to Euro 2021, where they are drawn in Group B.
They will play Denmark, Finland and Russia.
Edited By: Olawale Alabi) (NAN)
Police warn writer Gaiman over lockdown trip from New Zealand to Scotland
British writer Neil Gaiman has apologised for travelling from New Zealand to his home on the Scottish island of Skye in breach of coronavirus lockdown measures, saying “I did something stupid.”
Police spoke to Gaiman, author of “American Gods” and “Good Omens,” about his actions after he revealed he had made the 11,000 mile trip to Britain, flying into London and then driving to his home on Skye at the start of the month.
His “selfish” actions were criticised by Ian Blackford, the lawmaker who represents the area and the Scottish National Party’s leader in the Westminster parliament.
“I want to apologise to everyone on the island for creating such a fuss.
“I also want to thank and apologise to the local police, who had better things to do than check up on me.
“I’m sure I’ve done sillier things in my life, but this is the most foolish thing I’ve done in quite a while,” the author wrote on his website.
Gaiman said he had returned from New Zealand when the lockdown was eased there because he and his wife had agreed they “needed to give each other some space.”
His wife Amanda Palmer is an American musician and performance artist.
Scotland maintains stricter lockdown conditions than England, including telling its citizens to stay at home and advising against cross-border travel.
Ten residents of a care home in Skye’s main town of Portree have died of COVID-19.
Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Salif Atojoko (NAN)
Scotland abandons top-flight season amid coronavirus outbreak
Scotland on Monday became the latest country to abandon its top-flight football season due to the coronavirus outbreak with Celtic declared champions.
“We would all have rather seen the league season played out on pitches, in stadiums and in front of supporters,” league (SPFL) chairman Murdoch MacLennan said.
While the English Premier League is determined to find a way to continue amid the global pandemic, the tendency in Scotland, with significantly less income tied up in television contracts, was always to cancel.
The Netherlands, Belgium and France have all scrapped leagues though the German Bundesliga resumed at the weekend.
Italy and Spain also hope to start again in June.
European governing body UEFA wants all leagues to present plans on how to resume or give reasons for cancellation by May 25.
The decision in Scotland hands Celtic a record-equalling ninth championship in a row in final standings decided on average points per game.
Celtic’s long-standing Glasgow rivals Rangers were a distant second with Motherwell also in a Europa League place in third.
Fourth-placed Aberdeen is expected to be handed the Europa League place given to the Scottish Cup winners with that competition suspended.
Hearts were relegated, however, have not ruled out a legal challenge against demotion should talks over league reconstruction fail.
“On Friday, Ladbrokes Premiership clubs expressed their clear and unanimous view that there was no realistic prospect of completing the outstanding fixtures from Season 2019 and 2020.
“The focus of all those involved in the game will now turn to how we get football up and running again safely as soon as possible,” SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster said.
Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye/Salif Atojoko (NAN)
Prince Charles, Camilla celebrate 15th wedding anniversary in Scotland
Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, celebrated their 15th wedding anniversary at their home in Scotland on Thursday.
Camilla ended her self-isolation on Monday after Charles, the heir to the British throne, was quarantined with mild COVID-19 symptoms.
Ahead of their anniversary, Clarence House issued a photograph of the royal couple taken on Wednesday at their Birkhall home in Scotland with Camilla’s dogs Bluebell and Beth.
Charles, 71, and Camilla, 72, married in 2005 following years of controversy over their relationship.
She has been accepted as integral member of the royal family since then.
Charles had married Lady Diana Spencer in 1981 in a ceremony that gripped the country.
But Charles and Diana’s marriage was dogged by rumors of a continuing relationship with his former girlfriend, the then married Camilla Parker-Bowles.
In 1992, the government announced that Charles and Diana planned to separate, in 1997, she died in hospital after being seriously injured in a car crash in a Paris tunnel.
Edited By: Halima Sheji/Emmanuel Yashim