Friday, 4 December 2009

[WC 2010] Reaction to draw

Italy coach Marcello Lippi said he was only partly pleased about a 2010 FIFA World Cup draw that most observers considered fairly kind for the holders.

Giancarlo Abete & Marcello LippiThe Azzurri will face Paraguay, New Zealand and Slovakia in Group F next summer, and will be expected to breeze through to the last 16 of the competition in South Africa.

However, Lippi is not taking progression to the knockout phase for granted and is keen to focus on the merits of Italy's World Cup opponents.

"We are neither satisfied nor disappointed," Lippi said after the draw in Cape Town. "We must be realist. None of the teams are easy. We will have to study them and their characteristics very closely and prepare to face them at our best, one by one.

"In my opinion, there is no such thing as an easy or hard group - in all cases, Italy has to win. An opponent gets tougher if you consider it easy."

Lippi considers Paraguay, the side Italy kick start the defence of their world title against on June 14 in Cape Town, the strongest opponent in the group but points out the danger Slovakia and New Zealand, who were beaten 4-3 in a friendly in Pretoria last summer, pose.

"Paraguay have been at the top of the South American qualification zone for the last two years and Slovakia had a really good qualifying campaign and have grown, beating important teams. We have already seen New Zealand and we know them.

"You have to tackle everyone with your maximum attention, then if we'll be good enough to pass the group phase we'll start to think about other things."

After Paraguay in the south coast city of Cape Town, Italy face New Zealand in the northern city of Nelspruit and Slovakia in relatively close Johannesburg.

The President of the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) Giancarlo Abete, who had the "hard" job of handing back the World Cup trophy at the draw ceremony, expressed cautious optimism about the group that he considers within Italy's reach.

"We can be satisfied with this draw," Abete said. "We had planned to set our camp in Johannesburg regardless of the (draw's) outcome."

"We hope to qualify (for the round of 16). If we win the group we have a game in Pretoria and then again in Johannesburg. But this is a logic of ifs and buts.

"We have the group within our reach and a difficult junction in the quarter-finals (possibly) with Spain or Brazil."

An Italian delegation will travel to Johannesburg over the weekend to identify and establish Italy's base for the duration of the tournament.

The training facilities, hotel and "Casa Azzurri" are all likely to be based in the area between Johannesburg and Pretoria.

Meanwhile, the Azzurri are planning to become accustomed to the altitude in South Africa by training before the tournament in the northern Sestriere mountains in Turin rather than at the traditional pre-tournament base of Coverciano in Florence.

FIFA World Cup South Africa 2010
[Draw] - [Schedule] - [Reaction] - [Italy base] - [Italy friendlies]

Source: Various

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