Belgium head coach Roberto Martinez heaped praise on teenager Jeremy Doku after impressing in Thursday’s 1-1 international friendly draw with Greece.
Martinez’s Belgium were without several key players including star Kevin De Bruyne, Axel Witsel, Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois for the pre-Euro 2020 warm-up fixture in Brussels.
Thorgan Hazard – brother of Real Madrid’s Eden – opened the scoring off his shin in the 20th minute from a Yannick Carrasco assist.
Greece equalised in the 66th minute after Kyriakos Papadopoulos’ header hit the post, with Georgios Tzavellas reacting first for the visitors.
Despite failing to win, Martinez was content with the result as they fine-tune ahead of the rescheduled European Championship, where top-ranked Belgium are one of the favourites.
Martinez offered rare praise of an individual, singling out 19-year-old Rennes forward Doku following his seventh international appearance.
The former Anderlecht man only scored two goals and provided three assists in Ligue 1 in 2020-21 but is highly rated in his native Belgium, bursting on to the international scene with a goal in his second Red Devils appearance last September.
“I’m very, very satisfied with some of the individual performances,” Martinez said after the game. “It seems Jeremy Doku had exactly the same impact he had in March.
“He’s looking always to be getting stronger and better. Not only when he has the ball but in general in many actions of the game he’s involved in. He worked well tonight.”
The Spaniard added: “Yannick Carrasco was very strong in both halves of the field. Romelu Lukaku also showed that he was having a very good time mentally.
“Then there is Dennis Praet, for a player who has not played for so long, it’s really nice to see that he managed the 90 minutes well. It’s very good to see such a good response from all the players.”
Getting ready pic.twitter.com/Lg5ouysOrK
— Dennis Praet (@dennispraet) June 3, 2021
Greece failed to qualify for the Euros, but Martinez was not too fazed by his side’s inability to beat the 2004 champions.
“We needed a game like this,” he said. “You don’t learn anything that you win 3 or 4-0.
“I wanted a competitive team like the ones we are going to face at the Euros. That’s why we chose Greece. We knew it would not be a friendly match against them.
“I am not disappointed because this game was not scheduled to be won. It was played so that all the players could level up.
“Many players have accumulated the playing time necessary for the Euros.”
Belgium, whose Euro 2020 campaign starts against Russia on June 12, will play Croatia in their final warm-up fixture on Sunday.
Good to get minutes in the tank together. On to Sunday pic.twitter.com/EclP1w3STe
— Toby Alderweireld (@AlderweireldTob) June 3, 2021