2 September 2014 07:35
Belgium will be without star duo Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku for Thursday’s international friendly against Australia.
In their first match since bowing out to eventual finalists Argentina in the quarter-finals of the World Cup, Belgium travel to Liege minus the services of Chelsea playmaker Hazard and Everton striker Lukaku.
Despite being initially included in the 22-man squad, the Belgian Football Association have decided to rest pair for the midweek clash at Stade Maurice Dufrasne.
The names Hazard and Lukaku will still be represented against Australia, with their younger brothers called up by coach Marc Wilmots.
Thorgan Hazard, who is on loan at Borussia Monchengladbach from Chelsea, and debutant KV Oostende defender Jordan Lukaku will feature in the squad.
Thomas Vermaelen and Marouane Fellaini are also absent but Belgium are still close to full strength with captain Vincent Kompany, Jan Vertonghen, Kevin De Bruyne, Adnan Januzaj, and number one goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois at Wilmots’ disposal.
Jean-Francois Gillet has also been included after the shotstopper returned from a 13-month ban for match-fixing.
“I wanted to see him again, the group wanted to see him again, it will make us happy,” Wilmots said of the Torino keeper.
The match comes at the perfect time for Belgium – 11th in the FIFA rankings – after their first Euro 2016 qualifier in Israel on August 9 was rescheduled to March 31 next year due to security concerns in the region, proving the squad to come together before October’s fixture against Andorra.
“This is a game I want to win, like any other,” said Wilmots. “We will try to find ways to impose our game.”
As for the 79th-ranked Australians, it is the first of two friendlies over the two-week international break as they prepare to host the AFC Asian Cup in January.
Coach Ange Postecoglou has included four uncapped players in his squad, with Trent Sainsbury, Brad Smith, Bailey Wright and Chris Herd selected for both the Belgium match and Saudi Arabia fixture in London four days later.
Bayer Leverkusen forward Robbie Kruse makes his comeback for the national team after he was cruelly ruled out of the World Cup with a knee injury.
Thursday’s friendly will also mark a return to the field for Australia, who gained plenty of admirers despite losing all three group games against Chile, the Netherlands and Spain in Brazil.
Despite the positive nature of their performances, left-back Jason Davidson, who joined West Brom earlier this month, says it is time for Australia to start winning games leading into January’s Asian Cup campaign.
“Football’s governed by results. People remember at the end of the day what you did with results and points,” Davidson told Football Federation Australia’s official website.
“It was a step in the right direction at the World Cup but now we have two games coming up and we have an opportunity to change that and start getting some results our way now.
“It’s very important we start working towards the Asian Cup with these games. We can’t take them lightly we have to work hard and try and get a result.
“It starts with Belgium and I’m sure the boys will be eager to come into camp and work hard and on Thursday to get a result.”