Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Lippi blasts 'shameful' fans

Italy coach Marcelo Lippi launched a scathing attack on the fans in Parma for the way they criticised the national team during tonight's 3-2 win over Cyprus.

Marcelo LippiThe Azzurri, who qualified for next year's FIFA World Cup finals after Saturday's 2-2 draw in the Republic of Ireland, trailed by two goals before a hat-trick from Alberto Gilardino earned them a late win in their final qualifying game.

But a visibly furious Lippi could draw no pleasure from the result after witnessing the crowd's reaction to their performance.

"We qualified mathematically with a game to spare on Saturday, so you can imagine there was some celebration," said Lippi. "I promised that I would make changes and I changed all 11 players, unthinkable in a qualifier, for a game that doesn't count at all.

"As soon as we ran into some difficulties, which is understandable as they hadn't played together before, the fans start insulting them by shouting 'go to work' and chanting the name of other players instead of encouraging the ones that were on the pitch.

"It's an absolute shame!

"If anybody has forgotten this, on the field out there were the world champions. That means that we have won a tournament against all of the top nations in the world."

Before storming off the interview, he concluded: "It's easy in the end for them to all chant 'Italia! Italia!' when we've won. I think it's shameful! The problem is a lack of respect towards these extraordinary players who were in trouble, but reacted and then even won the game."

At the post-match press conference later, he continued to vent his anger but did add that the work begins now for the team's defence of their world title.

"I don't care about the result. If I had I wouldn't have changed 11 players," he said. "I'm not disappointed, I will evaluate this match. We have six or seven months to work and we started tonight.

"I can't make a technical assessment because we changed 11 players. We knew we would have problems, but I wanted to change things around because I wanted these players to experience the atmosphere.

"Cyprus dominated and they played well, but they lost and that's the reality. We can't get anything out of this game, but the door is still open for anyone [to make the World Cup squad]."

Source: Various

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