Roma's Belgian midfielder Radja Nainggolan reacts during the Italian Serie A football match AS Roma vs Juventus at the Olympic stadium on May 13, 2018 in Rome.  / AFP / Tiziana FABI
Roma midfielder Radja Nainggolan has been left out of Belgium's World Cup squad. Tiziana Fabi / AFP

Vincent Kompany in, Radja Nainggolan out of Belgium World Cup squad



Belgium have left midfield creator Radja Nainggolan out of their World Cup squad, manager Roberto Martinez said on Monday.

The absence of Nainggolan, who scored twice for Roma in the second league of the Uefa Champions League semi-final against Liverpool this month, was the biggest surprise in the 28-player list that will be reduced to 23 before the tournament.

Belgium face England, Panama and Tunisia in Group G at the World Cup.

The heavily tattooed 30-year-old midfielder has played 30 times for his country and is popular with supporters, but his relationship with Martinez has often been strained.

The Spanish former Everton manager said: "It was a sad and difficult decision. He is a player with a lot of class and he was voted Roma's best player, but I've made my decision for purely tactical reasons.

"I have put in place a specific system that works. I can't use Radja in a secondary role."

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Read more on World Cup 2018:

John McAuley: Mark Milligan impressed with impact of Bert van Marwijk for Australia's World Cup challenge

In pictures: All 12 Russia 2018 World Cup stadiums

Lowdown: Where to watch 2018 Fifa World Cup matches in the UAE and kick-off times

_____________

Martinez said he had travelled to Rome to explain his choice to the player.

In Nainggolan's place, Martinez has picked 21-year-old Youri Tielemans, who has had a low-key season at French club Monaco.

The decision to omit Nainggolan was criticised by former Belgian international Philippe Albert.

"We must be the only country in the world to be making the trip without one of the best players in the world. This is not the way to become world champions."

Manchester City's veteran defender Vincent Kompany is included, as is Barcelona defender Thomas Vermaelen, despite both being dogged by injuries this season.

Divock Origi, the Liverpool striker who has spent the season on loan at Wolsfburg, was left out.

Belgium face Portugal in a warm-up friendly on June 2.

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Friday qualifying: 7pm (8pm UAE)

Saturday race: 7pm (UAE)

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Fixtures

Wednesday, April 3

Arsenal v Luton Town, 10.30pm (UAE)

Manchester City v Aston Villa, 11.15pm (UAE)

Thursday, April 4

Liverpool v Sheffield United, 10.30pm (UAE)

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Daily visitors to Dragon Mart in 2010: 20,000

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Manchester City 6
(D Silva 26', Sterling 38', 81', 87', De Bruyne 61', Jesus 68')

Watford 0

Man of the match: Bernardo Silva (Manchester City)

Brief scores:

Toss: Rajputs, elected to field first

Sindhis 94-6 (10 ov)

Watson 42; Munaf 3-20

Rajputs 96-0 (4 ov)

Shahzad 74 not out

RESULTS

3.30pm: Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 – Group 1 (PA) $75,000 (Dirt) 2,000m
Winner: Jugurtha De Monlau, Pat Dobbs (jockey), Jean-Claude Pecout (trainer)

4.05pm: Dubai City Of Gold – Group 2 (TB) $250,000 (Turf) 2,410m
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4.40pm: Burj Nahaar – Group 3 (TB) $250,000 (D) 1,600m
Winner: Discovery Island, James Doyle, Bhupat Seemar

5.15pm: Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint – Group 3 (TB) $250,000 (T) 1,200m
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6.25pm: Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 – Group 1 (TB) $450,000 (D) 2,000m
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7.10pm: Ras Al Khor – Conditions (TB) $300,000 (T) 1,400m
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7.45pm: Jebel Hatta – Group 1 (TB) $350,000 (T) 1,800m
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8.20pm: Mahab Al Shimaal – Group 3 (TB) $250,000 (D) 1,200m
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Group B

UAE, Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia

 

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Monday Feb 25, 1pm, v Kuwait

Tuesday Feb 26, 9.30am, v Saudi

 

UAE squad

Ahmed Raza, Rohan Mustafa, Alishan Sharafu, Ansh Tandon, Vriitya Aravind, Junaid Siddique, Waheed Ahmed, Karthik Meiyappan, Basil Hameed, Mohammed Usman, Mohammed Ayaz, Zahoor Khan, Chirag Suri, Sultan Ahmed

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