Veteran cleverly deflects blame for shocking display.
Fabio Cannavaro has called on Italy to put their resources in developing younger players as the defender prepares for international retirement.
Italy were knocked out of the World Cup after a 3-2 defeat by Slovakia meant they finished bottom of their group.
With nine players in the team over 30, the 36-year-old defender said: “We’ve got to invest in younger players.
“We’ve got to learn from this loss otherwise it’s going to take another 27 years before we win the World Cup.”
Cannavaro, the Azzurri’s star player and captain when they won the competition in Germany four years ago, seemed off the pace as Italy struggled in South Africa , drawing against Paraguay and New Zealand before losing to Slovakia.
The Juventus centre-back admitted he cried after the defending champions were eliminated, but did not believe the woeful performance in Africa would erase the memory of their 2006 triumph.
“This is a black page in our history, but it can’t erase what we achieved in 2006,” said Cannavaro, Italy’s most capped player with 136 appearances for his country.
“I’m not ashamed to say that I cried last night after 14 years in Azzurro. With four stars on your chest, you feel obligated to win. It’s only natural to feel pressure but we were too afraid. I saw it in the faces of my team-mates.”
Cannavaro will pass the captain’s armband to goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon before heading for semi-retirement at Dubai’s Al-Ahli.
Worryingly for the Azzurri, however, is Cannavaro’s belief that the four-time World Cup winners did not have the players of the calibre of the 2006 generation.
“I think there are not many changes we can make. At the moment, Italy is not producing players like in my generation when we had great players,” he said.
“It’s not just the national team, it’s the clubs. We have good players but not top drawer. I’ve been saying for a while that the system has to change.” (BBC Sport)
Am I the only one who thinks this is a bit rich from the veteran centre back? He is saying that the reason Italy failed to spectacularly to qualify from a very average World Cup group is down to the lack of quality coming through the ranks and yet it was Italy’s old guard who were as much to blame for the incredibly poor showing in South Africa.
Cannavaro himself didn’t exactly cover himself with glory. He looked disinterested and spent large chunks of the Slovakia game smiling for no apparent reason and was a shadow of his usual self in this World Cup. Saying there is not enough youthful talent in Italy helpfully moves the blame for the debacle from the players to anywhere else but their shoulders.
Yes Marcello Lippi had to pick a fairly ancient squad but that is no reason that they couldn’t make it out of a group that they should have breezed through. The lack of youngsters is not the reason they finished bottom of said group. The lack of investment of time and money into Italian youth projects is not the reason Italy failed to win a single game.
The reason for the failure is that the players picked showed no heart and even less character. They minced about on the pitch like they owned it. They strolled around even when urgency was the order of the day as they headed to defeat against Slovakia.