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Friday, 14 June, 2002, 09:32 GMT 10:32 UK

Waseige hits back

Belgium coach Robert Waseige rounded on his critics after seeing his side clinch a thrilling 3-2 win over Russia to set up a second-round tie with Brazil.

Waseige, who will step down after the World Cup to coach Standard Liege, has been locked in a long-running feud with mainly Flemish-speaking journalists.

But he was delighted to have defied the negative media expectations surrounding his team.

" We showed we are not a team you can just throw away "
Robert Waseige

"All of us, the coaches and the players in the Belgian set-up, are extremely happy to have qualified despite some of the things we have been hearing from the media," said Waseige.

"We had two draws (against Japan and Tunisia) and one win, scoring six goals.

"We are unbeaten and we've found the form that we'd lost in the last two games.

"We have good offensive players and what can you say about Marc Wilmots? He scores in the big games and brings so much to the team.

"We showed we are not a team you can just throw away."

Waseige also took the opportunity to voice his views on the media.

"They went too far and don't desrve to be called journalists - it was all lies.

" We deserved this and the players fought very hard "
Robert Waseige

"There was a lot of criticism before we came over here - some sections of the media were very negative and they came over to Japan."

Belgium will now play Group C winners Brazil, one of only two teams with a 100% record in the tournament, in Kobe on Monday.

"That is a reward in itself for the whole team, I'm very proud. To play Brazil is an adventure.

"But with that match comes responsibility and we have to measure up."

Johan Walem, who scored the opening goal of the match and has also faced the wrath of the media, is also looking forward to the meeting.

"It's the icing on the cake," he said. "You never know, we'll see what happens."


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