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But coach Marcello Lippi sounded optimistic ahead of the New Zealand fixture.

Italy take on New Zealand in a crucial Group F fixture at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit. The Azzurri were held to a 1-1 draw by Paraguay in their opening game of the group while the All Whites scored an injury time equalizer against Slovakia to garner a point from their opening game of the World Cup.

Italy looked defensively good against the Paraguayans but failed to do much in attack. Speaking at the pre-match press conference, Azzurri captain Fabio Cannavaro refused to say anything concrete on their attacking department and said that he was not concerned with that area.

When asked to comment on their lack of goals, the 2006 World Cup winner said, :“Do we have a goal-scoring issue? That’s not my problem - I’m a defender!”

Italy coach Marcello Lippi sounded optimistic about collecting maximum points from Sunday's match and said, “We believe in our chances and have not lost hope of recuperating Gigi Buffon. Italy believes. Now we must transform that belief into conviction on the field of play.

“The team has improved both physically and psychologically, so we are ready for this type of match. It’s not wise to start making proclamations, but we are prepared.

“Of course we certainly shouldn’t fear New Zealand in terms of technique, but they are dangerous on a physical level and in the air. That means we must be very wary on set plays and keep the ball on the ground.

“Tomorrow (Sunday) we have a lot to lose, as qualification is in the balance, so we must work hard.”

When asked whether he will make any changes to his side, Lippi said, “No Coach explains his line-up to the media the day before a match. We have worked hard all week and have improved our build-up to get shots on target.

"The unexpected results of this World Cup prove that everything said before the tournament doesn’t count. Once you are here, it’s a whole different ball game.”

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