Lippi kicks off second stint as Italy coach

July 2nd, 2008 - 1:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Milan, July 2 (DPA) Returning Italy coach Marcello Lippi is to stick for the most part with the players and tactics he used to win the World Cup in 2006. “We have a group who won the World Cup so we have to be balanced and use our experienced players, but this does not mean that all of them will go ahead. We must make a mix of the past and of what the future offers,” Lippi said Tuesday.

Lippi, 60, was last week called back to replace Roberto Donadoni, who failed to meet expectations of securing at least a semi-final berth at Euro 2008.

Lippi said that during his two years away he had “interesting offers from many clubs, but when Euro 2008 got closer I felt a desire to fill again the coaching job with Italy and I made myself available for this job if there was a need.”

He said he hadn’t made plans yet for his first game, a friendly on August 20 against Austria.

“We for sure won’t look for a defeat as we did on my first game (a friendly at Iceland in 2004),” he said.

The coach said he has no intention of calling back striker Francesco Totti, 31, and defender Alessandro Nesta, 32, who gave up playing for the national team after the World Cup triumph.

“I’m convinced that we must respect the opinion of people. They gave a lot to the team but I’m not considering asking for their return.

“But I can give a suggestion to anyone who arrives at a point in his career with some problems and too many games to play. They should not say that they give up the national team, but that they give it up temporarily due to their problems.

“They could say that if in the future there is a need, they’ll be available. This could be a different form of farewell. Otherwise they, too, may regret their decision.

“I will not call anyone who took this decision. There is no point in me trying to change their mind. But if they should call me, we will evaluate all the aspects of the situation and I will make my decision.”

Lippi resigned in July 2006 after beating France in a penalty shoot-out final in Berlin. There were allegations of his marginal involvement in a wide corruption scandal that shook Italian football at the time.

“I took that decision because I realised that my name was involved and that I had no chance to give explanations because each of my words was being misused. Now times have passed and the matter has been addressed in a public debate (and trials).”

The coach will have in his staff Angelo Peruzzi and Ciro Ferrara, two former internationals he coached in the past, plus long-time team staffer Gigi Riva, Italy’s all-time top scorer on 35 goals.

His first game against Austria on Aug 20 will be a tune-up for a Sep 6 World Cup qualifier away to Cyprus. The path to the World Cup hosted by South Africa in 2010 appears to be fairly simple for the Azzurri as they face a qualification group with Ireland, being coached by Lippi’s predecessor Giovanni Trapattoni, Bulgaria, Georgia, Montenegro and Cyprus.

Beside the World Cup, Lippi won major trophies in two stints at Juventus, which he steered to clinch five Serie A titles and, in 1996, the Champions League and the Intercontinental Cup.

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