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   June 15, 2002 | 1250 IST


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Belgians relish chance to play Brazil

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Timothy Collings

Belgium will approach their World Cup second round clash with favourites Brazil in their normal fearless and wholly-committed style, hoping their sheer commitment can give them a chance of an upset victory.

Defender Daniel Van Buyten, like all of his team-mates, was delighted at the prospect of defending against Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Rivaldo in Kobe next Monday when the Belgians meet the Brazilians for the first time in a World Cup match.

Belgium players celebrate after their victory over Russia on Friday."We all feel the same; it's like a dream to play Brazil in the World Cup finals," he said. "It will be a privilege and a pleasure. This is why we all came to the World Cup -- to have a chance like this. It's what every player wants to do.

"I am not worried about it at all. I just look forward to it because you don't get too many chances to play in a game like this -- against Brazil and in the World Cup finals. I am sure all of our fans feel the same way.

"Some people were writing us off before we played against Russia, but we always felt we could achieve this kind of success and we have proved it."

The winners will go through to meet England or Denmark in a quarter-final in Shizuoka.

"We all know the way that Brazil play and what to expect. I think they know about us too. It will be up to us to find a way of keeping them under control and then succeeding with our attack. Anything is possible in football."


Striker Wesley Sonck, scorer of Belgium's critical second goal in their 3-2 victory over Russia in Friday's final first round group H clash, said that after being substituted in the first three games in the finals, he is now hoping to be in the starting line-up against the Brazilians.

"It is great for me to score such an important goal in this kind of game. Of course, I am disappointed at not being picked for the starting team, but when I had my chance I think I showed what I can do.

"I knew I had only 20 minutes and I had to do something. We were level at 1-1 and going out of the tournament if we did not score a goal and win. But in football, 20 minutes is a long time and a lot can happen.

"In this game, it produced three goals and I scored one. We won. That is the main thing.

"I am ready to start a game and I would love to play against Brazil. It's a real dream for all of us. We are not worried about it. We know it won't be an easy game, but we will enjoy it. They are a football team and we can beat them. We just have to believe it and go for it."

Coach Robert Waseige said everyone in Belgium knew all about Brazil. "We have a lot of respect and admiration for Brazilian football in Belgium. We know about French and English football, too, but not in the same way as this.

"Brazil have a team of great stars who work for each other and the result is a team that plays to a very high level. We have to do something special. If we are at our best and we work very hard, we can achieve something."

Belgium's success against Russia revived memories of their dramatic 4-3 victory over the former Soviet Union in Leon in Mexico in 1986 where the Belgians reached the semi-finals, after beating Spain on penalties in the quarter-finals following a 1-1 draw. They were knocked out by Argentina and lost the third place play-off 4-2 to France.

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