Tuesday, 16 October 2007

[Friendly] Italy v South Africa Preview

Italy coach Roberto Donadoni will rest his top players for Wednesday's friendly against South Africa with the far more important clash, a Euro 2008 qualifier against Scotland, to come next month in Glasgow.

The Azzurri are one point behind Group B leaders Scotland and just a point ahead of France with two games left and Donadoni admitted: "We are already preparing for the encounter against Scotland.

"On Wednesday we face South Africa and it will be a good test to see certain players. I have decided to rest some of the players who have played more in order for them to catch their breath."

While the Azzurri play the 2010 World Cup hosts in a friendly in Siena, their group rivals could put more pressure on the World champions as they continue their respective qualification campaigns.

Scotland travel to Georgia and France host Lithuania, knowing victories would mean Italy, who won their qualifier against Georgia on Saturday, would have to win the crunch November ties against the Scots and the Faroe Islands.

"It would be very grave if Italy didn't qualify for the European Championship," said Roma midfielder Daniele De Rossi. "We must achieve this, even playing in a stadium like Glasgow, where we will find a very heated atmosphere that just thinking about it gives you goose bumps.

"It's obvious that it will not be easy but I'm not negative, it will be like a World Cup final. It's true we have never won in Scotland but there's always a first time."

At 24 and with only 29 international appearances, De Rossi will be handed the captain's armband for the friendly. "To captain Italy gives me a lot of joy," he said. "I don't feel an added responsibility. What is important to me is that I'm 24 and have almost made 30 appearances for the national team. The rest is secondary."

With leading players being given the night off, Wednesday's encounter will be an experiment. Four players are set to make their debut for the senior team. Torino prodigy Alessandro Rosina, Udinese midfielder Andrea Dossena, Juventus midfielder Antonio Nocerino and Napoli's Paolo Cannavaro, brother of Italy's World Cup captain Fabio, are all expected to play a part.

Cagliari midfielder Pasquale Foggia is set to miss the encounter having sustained an eye injury, while Juve's Vincenzo Iaquinta is out with an illness.

Wednesday 17 October
Italy v South Africa (1950, UK Time)

Ukraine v Faroe Islands (1700)
Georgia v Scotland (1800)
France v Lithuania (2000)

[1] SCO - PLD: 10 - PTS: 24
[2] ITA - PLD: 10 - PTS: 23
[3] FRA - PLD: 10 - PTS: 22
[4] UKR - PLD: 09 - PTS: 13
[5] LIT - PLD: 09 - PTS: 10
[6] GEO - PLD: 10 - PTS: 07
[7] FAR - PLD: 10 - PTS: 00

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