Belgium coach Marc Wilmots is expected to give young Lille striker Divock Origi the chance to stake his claim to become the country’s first choice forward for the rest of the World Cup against South Korea on Thursday, and that could be bad news for Chelsea’s Romelu Lukaku.
Wilmots will pick Origi ahead of Lukaku in attack against South Korea in Sao Paulo having seen the 19-year-old come off the bench and score against Russia.
Lukaku is yet to make his mark in this tournament while Origi has delivered every time Wilmots has given him the chance. He got 23 minutes against Algeria and 33 minutes against Russia.
Lukaku’s club future remains uncertain after being sent out on loan last year by Jose Mourinho from Chelsea to Everton.
Roberto Martinez wants to keep the young striker for another campaign and there is also interest from Atletico Madrid in Spain.
But his poor showing in his first big international tournament will not help him get the move he wants.
He is yet to land a shot on target and young pretender Origi is now the striker all Belgian fans want leading the line.
The son of a Kenyan international, Origi has captured the imagination of a nation desperate to see the country’s fine individual talents come together as a winning team in this tournament.
The Ostend-born forward was a late edition to the squad after Christian Benteke pulled out through injury and can continuing upstaging Lukaku in the Corinthians Arena where Belgium will be looking to make it three out of three in Group H when they take on Hong Myung Bo’s South Korea.
The small matter of finishing first and avoiding a possible clash with Germany will also be on the agenda with Algeria still able to overhaul them if they beat Russia and Belgium lose.
South Korea have only earned one point so far in the tournament but could still make the last 16 if they beat Wilmot’s side and results go their way elsewhere. A South Korea win and a draw between Russia and Algeria or a Russian win, not by too greater margin, could also send them through.
Belgium have no such qualification concerns which is why Wilmots can afford to offer Origi his big chance to make the first-team berth his own.