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Italian wishes he had been in South Africa to see country's troubles...

EXCLUSIVE
By Gary McDaniel

New Italy national coach Cesare Prandelli has confessed that he wishes he had been at this summer's World Cup to witness first-hand the problems affecting the Azzurri.

The 2006 world champions, led by the hero of four years ago Marcello Lippi, were unceremoniously dumped out of the tournament after finishing bottom of their group behind the likes of Slovakia and New Zealand.
 
Prandelli subsequently replaced Lippi, who had announced prior before the finals that he was stepping down from the post of Italy's head coach after the tournament. But despite his imminent appointment, the 53-year-old was not invited to oversee any part of Italy's tournament preparation.

The former Fiorentina coach admits that there was a bitter reaction in Italy to the performance of the national team during the summer but plans to set about qualifying for the 2012 European Championships with renewed hope and determination.
 
"I cannot provide any detailed answer as to what were the reasons for our debacle in South Africa because I should have been there and I wasn't," Prandelli revealed.

"I have too much respect for Marcello Lippi so it wouldn't be fair to go into detail. I would prefer to focus my energy and concentration on the job I'm expected to do over the next four years," he added.
 
The 53 year-old has made changes to his recent squad announcement for their upcoming qualifiers with Estonia and the Faroe Islands but has stuck by stalwarts such as Andrea Pirlo. Prandelli believes that there are rising stars in Serie A ready to replace the ageing squad which appeared in the recent World Cup finals.
 
"We are starting a new era and when you are asked to take over a new job and plan for the future then you cannot avoid making changes," he noted.

"We will still rely on a few experienced internationalists but we have some young and very gifted players as well.
 
"It is up to us, the coaches, to succeed in nurturing new talent. That is why the Italian FA (FIGC) has recently created a new organisation, Club Italia, which is led by former Italy and AC Milan coach Arrigo Sacchi. They hope to optimise the synergy amongst its national teams and the coaching staff."
 
Prandelli suffered personal tragedy while managing Fiorentina in 2007 when his wife lost her battle with breast cancer.

He said: "Getting back into the job wasn't difficult, in fact it was a great help as it gave me the chance to spend much of my time on the pitch and focus on my coaching."
 
The Italians have been drawn into a group including Northern Ireland for qualification to Poland and Ukraine in 2012.
 
The experienced coach admits: "It's a tough pool. We have a new team which must learn quickly as we face experienced sides such as Serbia and Slovenia who both qualified for the last World Cup. Northern Ireland will also be tough as they have just missed out on qualification for major tournaments in recent years."
 
Prandelli also spoke of his fellow Italian Fabio Capello, who received a lot of criticism in the aftermath of England's demise at the World Cup, and he had news for those who may think Capello may change his philosophy.

He said: "Fabio is a very high profile professional who has won plenty of honours in Italy and beyond. He has done this by sticking by his principles until the end with great determination. He has my full appreciation."

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