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Soccer-Pressure? What pressure? asks Belgium coach Wilmots

Reuters

By Karolos Grohmann

BELO HORIZONTE, June 16 (Reuters) - Expectations may be high but Belgium coach Marc Wilmots believes there is no pressure on his team ahead of their Group H opener against Algeria on Tuesday.

The Belgians kick off their campaign exactly 12 years to the day from when they were eliminated by Brazil at the 2002 World Cup, the last occasion they qualified.

They are considered outside title contenders following a stellar qualifying campaign.

"Pressure, you know, it is worse if you have child who's ill and in hospital," said the 45-year-old Wilmots on Monday. "That's pressure."

"Here there is no pressure. We have made huge step forward in just a few years so let's put things in perspective," he told reporters at Belo Horizonte's Mineirao stadium.

Wilmots, a member of four World Cup squads for Belgium until 2002, was quick to brush aside the favourites tag that has followed his hugely talented team in the past months.

"The media have given us this tag, not us. I am not a coach who thinks that way," he said, also rejecting any comparisons with Belgium's golden generation that reached the 1986 World Cup last four.

"Ah yes, the golden generation," he said. "When we achieve something then we can talk about it. Now it is a generation which is hungry."

"So far we have done what we can and I have no regrets if it does not work out."

Belgium's current team are brimming with talent with players such as Vincent Kompany, Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne.

"I have asked Vincent's generation to try and write a beautiful World Cup history with clear principles and I have replaced the I, I, I with the We, We, We."

Belgium also play Russia and South Korea in their group. (Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, Editing by Nigel Hunt)

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