As the draw takes place for the 2014 World Cup qualifying games tonight, it might be opportune to see what sort of team Belgium could put on the pitch, assuming that they qualify.
In three years time, players such as Daniel Van Buyten and Timmy Simons will have hung up their boots. However, many of the current squad will be in their prime and there are more youngsters coming through. Here s how it could pan out:
Chelsea’s Thibaut Courtois should have cemented his place in the national team by 2014. Club Brugge’s Chris Coosemans will also have more experience and Beerschot’s Thomas Kaminski might have forced his way into the squad. All three will be in their early twenties.
Arsenal’s Thomas Vermaelen and Manchester City s Vincent Kompany will be in their prime, as will Zenit’s Nic Lombaerts. Another centre back to be considered is Ajax’s Toby Alderweireld. The full back positions are the Achilles heels of the Belgian team. It is to be hoped that Standard’s Sebastien Pocognoli can progress and get back into the team at left back. Right back, though is more problematic; there is no one in sight. Denis Odoi, recently signed by Anderlecht, could come into the frame (if he avoids red cards) and there are good reports of Marnick Vermijl, now learning the ropes at Manchester United.
Either Ajax’s Jan Vertonghen or Everton’s Marouane Fellaini could sit in front of the back four, and we shouldn’t forget Stoke City’s Florent Cuvelier who will be in his early twenties. Benfica’s Axel Witsel and Genk’s Kevin De Bruyne could complete the midfield trio, with two youngsters Ajax’s Mats Rits and Lens’ Thorgen Hazard coming through nicely.
Chelsea powerhouse Romelu Lukaku should be nicely settled (at 22), with Club Brugge’s Bjorn Vleminckx or Genk’s Jelle Vossen as alternatives. Lukaku could be flanked by LOSC’s Eden Hazard and Twente’s Nacer Chadli, with KAA Gent’s Yassine El Ghanassy and Fulham’s Moussa Dembele hoping for a seat on the plane. Finally we should not forget Charly Musonda Junior of Anderlecht, who will be 18 when the World Cup comes round; he could play the Theo Walcott role.
So the team could be:
Courtois; Vermijl, Kompany (captain), Vermaelen, Pocognoli; Witsel, Vertonghen, de Bruyne; E. Hazard, Lukaku, Chadli. Subs: Coosemans, Alderweireld, T. Hazard, Rits, Musonda Jr, El Ghanassy, Vleminckx.