By Karolos Grohmann
BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil, June 15 (Reuters) - Belgium need to handle a steep learning curve at the World Cup to gain the experience that will benefit the team in tournaments to come, coach Marc Wilmots said on Sunday.
Wilmots, a member of the squad at four World Cups from 1990 to 2002, has only one player in his fancied young squad who has taken part in a previous tournament - Daniel van Buyten.
This is Belgium's first appearance at the finals in 12 years with Van Buyten having played with Wilmots at the 2002 World Cup co-hosted by Japan and South Korea.
"You cannot buy experience, you have to fight for it, it's a fight," Wilmots told reporters ahead of Tuesday's Group H opener against Algeria.
"I don't know how they will experience this first moment," said the straight-talking coach, referring to the lack of experience in the World Cup that is one of the biggest question marks lingering over his team.
The Belgians are considered the dark horses in the tournament. The squad is brimming with talent and a generation of young players that is often compared with the formidable Belgium team of two decades ago.
"We will only be strong if we are able to carry out the task well in our positions," he said. "What is most important is team spirit and the team that we have."
"It's important to honour the value of the team instead of honouring your own personal value and to sacrifice yourself for the team. If everybody has those good intentions, we can have a very good World Cup," said the 45-year-old.
"This generation needs to learn and if they do then it will be a benefit for the next competition we take part (in)."
Wilmots played down injuries to two players in training this week, saying the squad was fully-fit.
"There is no problem for any player and they are all well and healthy," he said.
Wilmots also shrugged off the likely affects of the heat during the match, which kicks off at 1300 (1600 GMT) at Belo Horizonte's Mineirao stadium.
"It's hot but not a catastrophe," he added. "We can handle that". (Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; editing by Erik Kirschbaum)