Mancini Still Confident: “Italy Will Go to the World Cup”

Italy coach Roberto Mancini had a gloomy face when he spoke to press in the aftermath of the Azzurri‘s disappointing goalless draw in Northern Ireland that caused them to miss the direct ticket to the World Cup.

Still, Mancini looked at the bright side as Italy prepare to face the Playoff ordeal, where they will battle with three more teams for a last-gasp spot in the Qatari competition: “We will make it to the World Cup in March and then maybe we will even win it. I am totally confident,” he said.

Mancini then went on to discuss Italy’s poor moment, especially for what concerns their difficulties to score: “In this moment we are struggling to find the back of the net despite always being in control. In the first half we could open the scoring and that would have made us more confident, but we didn’t manage to. Their defense was very tight and it wasn’t easy to play. It’s a pity but we should have closed this group in the previous games.

Indeed, while drawing to Northern Ireland is not exactly an outcome you would expect from the incumbent European Champions, Mancini recognized that there were other episodes that caused Italy to miss direct qualification.  Italy basically threw out of the window the first spot in a group that seemed already won after three wins from the first three games before the summer.

We missed two penalties in two decisive games and it’s normal that such mistakes put us in difficulty.

Asked about the draw to Bulgaria in September – the game that opened the Azzurri‘s crisis, the coach noted: “It was the beginning of the season, after just two league games. We should have won that game but it was the two penalties against Switzerland that mattered.

I am confident, I am totally confident,” Mancini closed, a remark that sounded dangerously similar to former coach Giampiero Ventura’s claim that “he could not imagine Italy not qualifying to the World Cup” made ahead of the World Cup 2018 Qualifiers Playoff. We all know how it ended. Mancini has four months to prevent the disaster from happening again.