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Sadness as Belgium's 'golden generation' exit World Cup

AFP  |  Brussels 

Belgium's defeat by in their semi-final produced mixed feelings of sadness, gratitude and pride from fans at home on Tuesday, who bemoaned a missed opportunity for their "golden generation".

A second-half header from in Saint Petersburg gave a 1-0 win, earning them a place in Sunday's final in against either England or

Thousands of crestfallen fans walked away quickly after the final whistle sounded on a giant screen in the town of Waterloo, south of the Belgian capital

"We're very disappointed," 27-year-old told AFP in Waterloo, where French was defeated by a mix of European forces in a huge battle in 1815.

"It's really too bad to lose to France, Belgium's national bad luck," she added.

"But we are still proud to be Belgian."

Some echoed the love-hate relationship and inferiority complex many French-speaking Walons have with their bigger neighbour

"We will hear it spoken about for one hundred years," 26-year-old supporter said. "The French will take the mickey out of us."

French speakers, who share a country with Dutch and German speakers, are particularly sensitive to what they see as France's condescending attitude toward them.

It's only the second time in history that have reached semi-finals, 32 years after Diego Maradona's beat them at the same stage in in 1986 before going on to win the title.

France won in 1998 and are now in their third final. But Belgian was full of praise for the Red Devils.

"Bravo @BelRedDevils for your performance and having thrilled us until the semi-final," Michel tweeted.

- 'Harsh logic' -


For many observers, this generation of talented players including Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne, and others had a real chance to come home victorious.

"Regrets are eternal. It will not be our day of glory on this 10 July," a presenter of Belgium's French-language said after the final whistle. But he thanked the team.

"Thanks for having allowed, thanks to football, to forget everything a bit and enjoy moments of pleasure."

Analysts have also praised the multicultural team, including those whose parents are Congolese and Moroccan immigrants, for helping to unite a country split by political tensions over the Dutch and French language.

In Brussels, the national colours -- black, yellow and red -- were draped over cars, balconies and cafes that showed the match on television.

In one cafe, Mathieu Geslan, a 32-year-old French baker who has lived in for nine years, wore Belgium's red jersey to watch the match with his Belgian partner

"The French have won once So why not have the Belgians win this time?" he said at half-time when the score was still 0-0.

After the match, there was plenty of analysis of what went wrong.

"The Belgians did not manage the last half hour well," 79-year-old said in the suburb of Uccle.

"We are sad but it is deserved," said Dhave, a club who organised a special evening for the match.

He said that key men De Bruyne and Hazard were not on form. Belgian had predicted a 1-0 France victory in newspaper

"I think our team will lose Tuesday evening because it has every chance of winning. That's the harsh logic," he said.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, July 11 2018. 10:05 IST