Thursday, 20 May 2010

Italy officially target Prandelli

World champions Italy have offered Fiorentina coach Cesare Prandelli the chance to succeed Marcello Lippi as national team boss after the FIFA World Cup this summer.

Cesare PrandelliLippi has long hinted he will step down after the finals, which start on June 11, and Prandelli has been front-runner with the media and bookmakers for months after turning around La Viola from being relegation strugglers into qualifiers for the UEFA Champions League.

"With reference to the reports that emerged in the newspapers today about contact between FIGC President Giancarlo Abete and Diego Della Valle, Fiorentina point out that only yesterday did Abete ask Andrea Della Valle for permission to contact Cesare Prandelli," read a statement from the club.

"Noting that the request was for the National team, Andrea Della Valle has expressed to Abete the club's willingness to accept the decisions of their coach.

"Fiorentina, in the interest of the team and its fans, asks only that the situation be clarified as soon as possible in order to plan their future."

Prandelli, who earlier this month said he was committed to his club, had no comment when he prepared to fly with Fiorentina to Canada for a post-season tour of friendlies.

Amid confusion over Lippi's strategy, Abete has consistently said a decision on who would coach the Azzurri in the UEFA Euro 2012 qualifiers would be made before the team flies to South Africa on June 8.

Lippi, who quit after Italy's World Cup triumph in 2006 before returning two years later after Roberto Donadoni was sacked, has never explicitly said he would again be leaving but Abete's contact with Fiorentina has revealed the 61-year-olds plans.

Prandelli, Serie A's longest-serving coach having been at Fiorentina since 2005, guided the club to the Champions League last 16 this season and also notably managed Parma and Roma for a brief spell before leaving to care for his sick wife who later died.

Abete had said any replacement for Lippi would be Italian but his options were limited given Chelsea's Carlo Ancelotti and Manchester City's Roberto Mancini, who had both previously expressed interest in the job, have only just completed their first seasons with their clubs.

With Luciano Spalletti working at Zenit Saint Petersburg, that left Prandelli as clear favourite despite Fiorentina enduring a poor campaign in Serie A where they finished 11th.

The fans blamed the team's slump on their good European run, a drugs ban for striker Adrian Mutu and tensions between Prandelli and the club's board.

The 52-year-old Prandelli, famed for his slicked-back hair and purple puffer jacket, had been seen in the media as a candidate for the Juventus job before the faltering Turin giants chose former Sampdoria boss Luigi Del Neri on Wednesday.

Qualifying for UEFA Euro 2012 tournament in Poland and Ukraine begins in September with Italy meting Estonia, Faroe Islands, Northern Ireland, Serbia and Slovenia in Qualifying Group C.

Source: Reuters

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