Tuesday, 9 June 2009

[Azzurri] Lippi eyeing friendly win

Italy coach Marcello Lippi believes a win in Wednesday's friendly against New Zealand in Pretoria would give the world champions the perfect platform for their Confederations Cup adventure.

Marcello LippiThe Azzurri will take on South American champions Brazil, CONCACAF Gold Cup winners the United States and African Nations Cup holders Egypt in Group B.

"We expect to play great games in South Africa," said Lippi. "We want to grow as a team and as a group.

"One of the most important things will be to consolidate our strong points and take advantage of all the opportunities we will have to grow and improve as much as possible."

The Azzurri go into Wednesday's encounter on the back of Saturday's 3-0 triumph over Northern Ireland in Pisa, where Lippi fielded an experimental side.

"I think our matches in South Africa will serve to evaluate the growth of this group after one year's work," said Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro.

"We know we will face great teams but we want to go all the way."

Starting on the right foot with be key for Italy, according to Lippi.

"The first match is always the most important one because it is the first," he said.

The Azzurri, who will also have a training game with a local side on Friday, have one week to acclimatise to the conditions before making their debut against the United States in Pretoria on Monday.

"The only setback has been the weather," said Lippi. "It's freezing cold but no-one can do anything about that.

"We can only hope that it improves."

Roma midfielder Daniele De Rossi and Cannavaro trained separately from the team with minor knocks and are set to rest, but AC Milan midfielder Gennaro Gattuso, who was sidelined for most of the season with a knee injury, is expected to play against New Zealand.

Wednesday's match will provide Ricki Herbert's New Zealand a unique opportunity to test their credentials.

The All Whites will compete, as Oceania champions, in their third FIFA Confederations Cup looking to collect their first ever points in the tournament.

The minnows were drawn in Group A with Spain, Iraq and hosts South Africa.

[FIFA Confederations Cup 2009]

Source: Sporting Life

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