Updated: 06/26/2014 10:04 | By Agence France-Presse

Belgium deny taking South Korea lightly

Belgium coach Marc Wilmots denied he was taking South Korea lightly despite saying he would field a much-changed line-up for their final World Cup group game.


Belgium deny taking South Korea lightly

Belgium's coach Marc Wilmots, pictured during a press conference at Corinthians Arena in Sao Paulo, on the eve of their FIFA World Cup Group H match against South Korea, on June 25, 2014 - by Martin Bureau

Captain Vincent Kompany and Thomas Vermaelen are out with minor injuries and Wilmots said Belgium would also take the opportunity to give game-time to reserve players.

Belgium are already into the last 16 but the comments prompted concerns from one journalist from Russia, who are vying with Algeria and South Korea for Group H's other spot.

But Wilmots said it was important to keep his players fresh -- and he promised his team would "go for it" in Thursday's game in Sao Paulo.

"We're going to go for it. We'll have an excellent team on the pitch tomorrow. I don't have a B-team, a second-class team," Wilmots said.

"We also get to give experience for later on. We can't just think of the short-term, we also have to think of the long-term. After the game you can decide if that was a good decision or not."

Wilmots added: "This is a very good World Cup, lots of goals have been scored but if we want to go further than the round of 16 we'll have to keep our players fresh."

The coach, who appeared at the press conference flanked by Bayern Munich defender Daniel Van Buyten, refused to reveal whether Chelsea star Eden Hazard would play.

He said Manchester City's Kompany trained for just 35 minutes on Wednesday after a recurrence of a groin problem which also affected him earlier in the tournament.

He did not give details of the injury affecting Vermaelen, but the Arsenal defender lasted just 31 minutes of the 1-0 win over Russia before coming off with a knee problem.

"They're not very serious but we want to keep them fresh. They won't play against South Korea," Wilmots said.

Belgium have qualified for the round of 16 by winning their opening two group games. South Korea need a big victory to stand any chance of staying in the tournament.

But Wilmots said Belgium had done their normal pre-match preparations for facing winless South Korea, including video analysis and compiling the "maximum amount of information".

"We always work in the same way so we've had good preparation. If we had zero points we would have prepared exactly the same way," he said.

And Van Buyten gave reassurances that Belgium would give "100 percent" against the group's bottom side.

"Tomorrow we're ready to fight and we have clear instructions to play as well as possible. So we will play 100 percent," he said.

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