Italy head coach Roberto Mancini has admitted that the Azzurri should have sealed their place in the World Cup sooner but remained confident that his side will qualify and go on to win the tournament. The Azzurri only managed a draw with Northern Ireland on Monday and finished second in their group.
Italy has enjoyed a resurgence in recent editions of major international tournaments as they emerged as the winners of Euro 2020 after beating England in the final. They will look to prevent a repeat of the last edition of the World Cup where they failed to qualify for the first time since 1958. The Azzurri faced Northern Ireland in the final game of the World Cup qualifiers on Monday but was unable to clinch the win as they looked to fend off competition from Switzerland to qualify for the 2022 World Cup automatically.
A goalless stalemate has seen Italy finish second in Group C and their fate will be decided through the play-offs if they are to qualify for the tournament in Qatar next year. The Azzurri will now enter the play-offs in late March and will look to be among the three teams that cement their place for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Yet despite that, Mancini expressed his belief that his side will go on to win the tournament after sealing qualification.
“We can’t do anything about it now, we have this game in March and will try to give our best. At the moment, we are struggling to score goals, despite dominating possession and the initiative. Northern Ireland put everyone in defence and we struggle to break sides like that down. It’s a pity, because we should’ve sealed the group long before it came to this,” Mancini told RAI Sport.
“We just need to rediscover what characterised us up until today. We had two missed penalties in the decisive matches, so that shows we had the chances to win. Now we prepare for March and we go into the play-offs confident. We’ll book our place in the World Cup in March and hopefully win the tournament too,” he added.