BELGIUM had to weather a Canadian storm but their superiority ultimately showed — at least in the scoreline.
The World Cup in Qatar is perhaps the last chance for Belgium’s golden generation to deliver on their potential by winning silverware; their Last Dance.
Semi-finalists at the last edition in Russia and quarter-finalists at the one before in Brazil, they were overrun by Canada, making their first appearance at a World Cup since 1986, here at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on the edge of the desert in the outskirts of Doha.
But they eventually prevailed in their Group ‘F’ opener on Wednesday night, winning 1-0 thanks to Michy Batshuayi converting one of the rare chances they had in the game.
Canada had Belgium on the cosh in a breathless start, winning a penalty in the 10th minute for a handball only for their superstar Alphonso Davies to see it blocked by Thibaut Courtois.
They peppered Belgium’s goal with shots from all angles, only to be caught out near the end of the first half when Toby Alderweireld sent a long ball over the top that landed in front of Batshuayi who finished it with aplomb.
Any thoughts that the goal would change the flow of the game were unfounded. The second half started the same way as the first, Canada continuing to ask questions. But the goal eluded them.
Published in Dawn, November 24th, 2022