Mancini Details What Went Wrong for Italy, Shows Confidence

Roberto Mancini remains upbeat about Italy’s chances: “It is a particular day. We thought we had already sealed the qualification. We have to accept the verdict of the pitch even when it is negative. We still have a solid chance of going to Qatar. The Northern Ireland game was the most difficult one of my tenure.”

Mancini talked during the Social Football Summit: “There are moments when things do not go well even if you give your 100 percent. However, I am still confident. We lost just once in the last 40 matches. We always have to keep a positive attitude. It was better to struggle now rather than in March or during the World Cup. The squad is excellent and did not win the Euro by chance. Sometimes it happens to underperform.”

Mancini dished on what did not work: “There are always slow periods during the course of a season. We also had several absences in a key fixture, and our conditioning was not the best. We have to find some solutions and maybe new young players that could blossom in a year. I thought it would be hard when we were paired with Switzerland. I did not expect to go to the playoff, but I knew it would be challenging. Now we have to find the strength and prepare for March. We made things more difficult for ourselves by missing two penalty kicks in the head-to-head clashes.”

Mancini concluded by looking ahead: “We can defeat anybody in the playoff if we have the right approach and avoid injuries. If I had to pick one, I would avoid Portugal.” Italy will face Turkey, Poland, North Macedonia, Ukraine, Austria, or Czech Republic in the first game. Scotland, Russia, Sweden, and Wales are the other top seeds.