Belgian supersubs save the day
RIO DE JANEIRO
BELGIAN supersub Divock Origi is not sure whether he will get another game at the World Cup, but he is happy to put himself at the mercy of coach Marc Wilmots.
The 19-year-old is one of a team of scorers-in-waiting who have taken the European side through to the World Cup last 16.
Origi, who could have played for Kenya, came on as a substitute for a second game in a row against Russia on Sunday to slam in a precious 88th-minute winning goal for the European side.
On Tuesday, it was Marouane Fellaini, 26, and Dries Mertens, 27, who were brought on to get winning goals after Belgium had fallen behind Algeria. Thanks to their efforts, the Red Devils are likely to top Group H.
Origi is raw talent. Fellaini is an established English Premier League star, who is now with Manchester United. Mertens plays with Napoli in Italy.
Wilmots said after the win that every player has to be ready to wait for a chance to get on the pitch, and he boasted of the depth of his squad's strength.
"What is important is that Belgium can count on totally devoted players - I understand that people are not happy to be substitutes," he added.
Origi, who only recently broke into the first team at Lille in France, is happy to follow Wilmots' tough rules.
"I hope I have paid back some of the confidence the coach has shown he has in me," he said after scoring the goal in his fourth appearance.
"I'm very happy for the team and for Belgium.
"It was very special to score here at the Maracana in the World Cup...," said Origi, whose father played for Kenya.
The teenager is just one of a squad packed with world-class talent, even though Belgium has only 11 million people.
The country's best showing at the World Cup so far was reaching the semi-final in 1986, when they lost to Diego Maradona's Argentina.
They last qualified for the tournament in 2002, but were so good in qualifying this time that many people consider them dark-horse contenders to get to the final.
The team suffered a blow when striker Christian Benteke suffered an injury ahead of the World Cup. That let in the teenager.
Said Wilmots: "If Benteke had been fit, Divock wouldn't be here.
"But I like to launch youngsters, and he's quick and disciplined."