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L. Bonucci

'It's absurd!' - Bonucci fumes at World Cup qualifying format after Italy crash out

12:03 PM EDT 3/28/22
Leonardo Bonucci Italy Macedonia WCQ
The defender says teams should not miss out on a place in the competition for losing one match

Leonardo Bonucci says it is "absurd" that the World Cup qualifying play-offs are decided in one-off matches.

Italy missed out on a place at the 2022 tournament in Qatar after they suffered a shock defeat to North Macedonia in their play-off match last week.

Italy dropped down to the play-offs after finishing second in their group behind Switzerland, despite going unbeaten throughout the round.

What has been said?

Bonucci believes it is not fair that a team's hopes of booking a place in the competition can come down to just one game, but insists he is not making excuses for his team's failure.

"We played it all in a one-off match, it's an absurd system," the defender told reporters.

"Unfortunately, that's the way it went, but it's a crazy decision.

"You have to play a single game in which anything can happen as we have seen.

"There are teams that qualified after losing four or five games, we are at home after losing only one in the 92nd minute. It is truly madness.

"Clearly the regulation is not an alibi or an excuse, we certainly had to do better. But from here we have to take inspiration to find the way back to where we were.

"There were many reflections. Certainly after Euro 2020 we got a bit lost. This compromised our path to the World Cup."

Bonucci backs Mancini despite Italy failure

Azzurri coach Roberto Mancini has confirmed he will remain in charge of the team despite his side's collapse against North Macedonia.

Bonucci has backed the former Inter and Manchester City boss to get the Euro 2020 winners back on the right track and believes keeping him in charge is the correct call.

"What Mancini has given us in these three years has been unique," he said.

"An empathy has been created that was rarely seen in Coverciano, for us to continue with him is only a logical consequence.

"His ideas and human value are not discussed, then a game can change visions but those who live in this environment every day just want to continue this path."

He added: "The 48 hours after the elimination were really hard, we found ourselves with our mouths closed and in silence at lunch and in the changing rooms. 

"We tried to play it down with the younger players, saying that they will have other opportunities, then Mancini spoke and we reconnected to the present and the future. 

"We have to start again to rebuild, the bases to make a great ascent are there."

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