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Monday, 3 June, 2002, 17:02 GMT 18:02 UK
No fears for Waseige
Robert Waseige
Robert Waseige runs the rule over training
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Robert Waseige is saying his farewell to the national team at the World Cup.

Despite problems with the media, Waseige is remaining calm and there is an excellent atmosphere within the squad itself.

Recently Belgium have defeated Costa Rica and France, so confidence could not be higher.

"If we had been drawn against France or Brazil, the press would have said it's impossible," Waseige told BBC Sport Online.

"But if we draw anyone else, then they say it's easy and that it's the best draw possible.

"I'm somewhat in agreement with that but there is a big difference between saying that the draw has been kind and saying that it's easy."

Belgium start their campaign against co-hosts Japan, before matches against Tunisia and Russia and Waseige is confident that his team can progress to the knock-out stages.

In regard to Japan, Waseige knows that it will be a tough game and it annoys him when pundits, such as ex-national coach Raymond Goethals, belittle their opening opponents.

"They say things like 'Japan - that's not a football country'. It's crazy to say that and it shows a total lack of respect.

"In the last three years, Japan have played more games than any other country and they are at home.

"They are well prepared, having played against Europeans who play in a Latin style, Europeans who are more Anglo-Saxon in their approach, South Americans, Central Americans and other Asiatic countries.

"Their supporters are very proud of their team and technically they have good players.

"They are very quick but perhaps lack some strength.

"Their results are improving; to win 2-0 in Poland was a great result. So overall, they look good. But perhaps the pressure of playing at home will be hard to handle. I hope so."

Second up are Tunisia, a team he feels that Belgium have the measure of.

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If we can get a win against Japan then that would change the whole outlook and it could transform the team
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Robert Waseige
"Technically, Tunisia are very good," Waseige said.

"It's a team with excellent individual skills, a good short-passing game but they do tend to lack finishing power."

But Waseige thinks that the final match will be the most difficult as he believes Russia will start favourites in the group.

By the time the match comes around that may have altered depending on results, but Waseige knows what to expect - even if he doesn't know what that will be.

"Russia always have a mysterious quality - they don't travel much and they don't communicate much.

"For example, their coach, Oleg Romantsev, who is also in charge of Spartak Moscow, didn't attend either of the draws in Japan.

Overall, Waseige sees the group as being very open.

"If we can get a win against Japan, maybe snatch as 1-0 victory, then that would change the whole outlook and it could transform the team."


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GROUP H
  P GD PTS
JAPAN 3 +3 7
BELGIUM 3 +1 5
RUSSIA 3 0 3
TUNISIA 3 -4 1

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