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World Cup: Belgium missing Lukaku, says Okocha

Jay Jay Okocha

Former Super Eagles captain, Jay-Jay Okocha, has stated Belgium are missing their striker, Romelu Lukaku.

Okocha noted that Michy Batshuayi had a poor shot conversion rate and suggested that he was not on the same level as Lukaku, who was struggling to overcome a muscle injury and was on the bench against Morocco.

Okocha said this before Belgium’s World Cup clash against Morocco at the Al Thumama Stadium, in Doha, Qatar, on Sunday.

“The downside of his [Batshuayi’s] game is he has to be more clinical. He always gets himself in the right positions, but his finishing is always a bit questionable,” he told SuperSport.

“He is a player that needs a lot of chances to convert and that is where Lukaku is being missed.

“Hopefully, he will grow as the tournament goes on, knowing that he is the main man now because of the injury that Lukaku has.

“Hopefully, he will know that he needs to convert more of his chances,” Okocha added.

Morocco jeopardised Belgium’s World Cup hopes as Abdelhamid Sabiri and Zakaria Aboukhlal’s late goals secured a surprise 2-0 triumph in Doha on Sunday.

Belgium, third in Russia four years ago, could have qualified for the last 16 with victory but instead produced another insipid display after their fortunate opening win over Canada.

Substitute Sabiri was the hero thanks to a 73rd-minute free-kick which Thibaut Courtois allowed to bounce in at his near post, before Aboukhlal grabbed a second in stoppage time.

The tens of thousands of Morocco supporters responded by cheering their team home at a raucous Al Thumama Stadium.

Morocco replace Belgium at the top of Goup F and know they will qualify for the knockout phase for the first time since 1986 if they can avoid defeat against Canada on Thursday.

Belgium, the world’s second-ranked side, will have to beat 2018 runners-up Croatia to be sure of going through.

Roberto Martinez’s ageing side have reached at least the quarter-finals of each of the past four major tournaments.

Belgium, whose captain Eden Hazard has admitted are not as good as in 2018, lacked spark and were made to pay by inspired opposition.

Morocco were dealt a blow after the national anthems when goalkeeper Yassine Bounou appeared to gesture he would not be able to play.

The experienced Munir El Kajoui was sent out in his place.

The Atlas Lions fans vastly outnumbered their Belgian counterparts and breathed a sigh of relief when the Europeans almost grabbed a fourth-minute lead.

Hazard played in Michy Batshuayi whose effort from a tight angle was kept out by Munir.

Belgium dominated the early exchanges but Morocco did manage a shot at goal when Hakim Ziyech fired over from distance.

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