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Balotelli on Italy's World Cup play-off failure: I'm pretty good in front of goal

6:02 PM EDT 3/30/22
Mario Balotelli Italy
The Azzurri came up short in front of goal as they missed out on the finals for the second consecutive tournament

Ex-Italy star Mario Balotelli feels that he could have scored the goals that would have stopped the Azzurri from crashing out of World Cup qualifying.

Italy racked up no fewer than 32 shots during their play-off against North Macedonia, but not one of them made it past goalkeeper Stole Dimitrievski.

And at the other end Aleksandar Trajkovski swooped with one of his nation's few attempts on goal in injury time to secure a famous victory.

What was said?

"I'm always missed when we lose," Balotelli, who is currently playing for Adana Demirspor in Turkey, explained to Sky Sport Italia when asked for his thoughts on Italy's elimination. "It's easy to say it now but before the match no one thought about me.

"I watched the match and there were opportunities. In front of goal I'm pretty good - and I'm not saying we would have won if I had been playing, but there were opportunities to score."

A vote of confidence for Mancini

Qatar 2022 will thus be the second consecutive World Cup for which Italy is absent, an unprecedented run for the four-time champions.

Coach Roberto Mancini is now under pressure in spite of winning Euro 2020 less than a year ago; but his former Inter and Manchester City charge believes he is still the right man for the job.

"I haven't spoken to him, but I have a great relationship with the manager and am so happy he is staying, especially as, in just a few years as manager, he is already a European champion," Balotelli added.

"It's OK that people are disappointed or sad because of the failed qualification, it hurts that we are not going to Qatar but you can't forget that, in just a short time, the manager led a team that was, yes, strong, but that no one expected [to win] to the Euro 2020 title.

"Mancini has done a great job. He deserves to continue and I am happy he is staying."

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