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Saturday 16 December 2017

Belgians carry on as O'Neill readies spies

Belgium manager Marc Wilmots
Belgium manager Marc Wilmots

Belgium boss Marc Wilmots says he wanted the Red Devils' friendly against Portugal next week to be played on home soil as a gesture to "terrorists".

The Belgians, one of Ireland's opponents at Euro 2016, were due to play Portugal in Brussels on Tuesday but in the wake of this week's attacks in the capital, the game has been moved to Portugal,

"I wanted to play in Brussels, at home, because I am against fear," coach Wilmots said.

"We have to continue to live our lives. But I respect the decisions taken by the authorities.

"Me, I wanted to play here to show them (the terrorists) that even if the terrible events, which shook the country, that life goes on for the majority of people. That we are not scared and we will not change the way we conduct our lives. This is my opinion," added Wilmots.

While Martin O'Neill is preoccupied with Ireland's games against Switzerland (tonight) and Slovakia (Tuesday), he will have his spies keeping an eye on Ireland's Euro 2016 opponents in their friendly games.

Sweden played away to Turkey last night and host the Czech Republic on Tuesday; the Belgians have only one game this week (Portugal) while Italy, who played Spain last night, face Germany in Moncao on Tuesday.

"I will look at those games closer to the finals," said O'Neill.

"Sweden will have representatives watching us tonight and on Tuesday, so have Italy and Belgium. You would expect that.

"But not just that, the qualification games as well. People will try some things in friendly matches that might not be what they are looking to do in the course of the three games coming up [in France].

"In terms of preparation it's something we will do, after Tuesday the players will be engrossed at club level but when we come back again, we will be DVD-ed and videoed-out. If we get beaten by Sweden, it won't be because we don't know their players," added O'Neill.

Italy are searching for a new coach to replace Antonio Conte when he quits after Euro 2016 but Fabio Capello recently in charge of Russia as well as his spell with England, has ruled himself out as a contender for a return to the national team as boss.

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