Soccer - Belgium can still win major title, says determined Hazard

TALLINN (Reuters) - Belgium captain Eden Hazard believes he and his team mates can still win a major trophy after failing to live up to their top ranking at the European Championship this year.

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - LaLiga - Levante v Real Madrid - Estadio Ciudad de Valencia, Valencia, Spain - August 22, 2021 Real Madrid's Eden Hazard reacts REUTERS/Pablo Morano

Belgium, who were third at the last World Cup in Russia, have been top of the FIFA rankings since 2018 but went out at the quarter-final stage at the Euros to eventual winners Italy.

“Can we win another tournament with the Red Devils? Yes, there is still a lot of talent in the team, with players who play at the best clubs in the world. Some boys are a bit older, but the youngsters are knocking on the door of selection. It is certainly still possible to find the right chemistry on the pitch,” Hazard told a news conference on the eve of Thursday’s World Cup qualifier in Estonia.

Belgium will have a familiar look about their line-up in Tallinn in their Group E clash but with a few additions.

“The older ones can’t play every game anymore. That’s why we’re now fitting in good young players. That’s a good thing,” Hazard added.

“If the young players do well, it will be easier for our generation to say goodbye.”

The 30-year-old Hazard, who has been plagued by injury over the last two seasons, also believes he can get back to his best.

“We are coming from a difficult period with the coronavirus and personally I also struggled with a lot of injuries. That was difficult for me to comprehend because I was never injured before. It was a mix of different things that made me unhappy but if the injuries leave me alone, I will still reach my top level.

“That’s why I’m still going out on to the field with great enthusiasm. I lost two years due to injuries; I want to play again and regain the good feeling on the pitch.

“If the injuries leave me alone, I will certainly still reach my level. My qualities will always be there, I’m not worried about that, even if I may be a little less explosive. I just have to have the confidence that I can play without getting injured,” he added.

Belgium top Group E with seven points from their opening three matches, three ahead of the second-placed Czech Republic, whom they will play at home in Brussels on Sunday.

Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Clare Fallon