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George Leekens

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Enzo Scifo
Luc Nilis
Franky van der Elst
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World Cup Pedigree

Sunday, May 3, 1998 Published at 17:49 GMT 18:49 UK

Teams | Belgium | Features
Belgium - World Cup Pedigree

Belgium booked their ticket to the finals the hard way, scraping through 3-2 on aggregate after a two-legged play-off against Ireland.

It is unlikely to get any easier in France where they are in the same group as the Netherlands, who beat them twice in the qualifying stages.

It took Belgium six attempts in World Cup finals before they got past the first round. But in 1982, two wins and a draw saw them through to the last eight, before they lost to the USSR.

They took revenge on the Soviet Union in 1986 with a 4-3 win which put them into the quarter-finals. Spain were then beaten 5-4 in a penalty shoot-out but Belgium were sunk by two goals from Argentina's Deigo Maradona in the semi-finals.

Their 1998 campaign was plagued by injury and coach Georges Leekens suggested the team doctor was playing a more crucial part than himself.

A total of 43 players were drafted in for 10 matches, with only goalkeeper Filip De Wilde playing in every match.

Leekens was also not keen to be grouped with the Dutch again.

"I'm a bit disappointed. I hope my players will take their revenge but Holland are undoubtedly a better side."

"In this group the real battle will be between Mexico and us."

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Belgium - World Cup Pedigree