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Mancini Left Speechless After Italy Fails To Qualify For World Cup

Roberto Mancini

Italy manager Roberto Mancini was left speechless after seeing the European Champions loss 1-0 at home to North Macedonia, a defeat that will leave the Azzurri out of the World Cup for the second straight time.

With Italy frustrated for 90 minutes by a heroic North Macedonia defensive performance, Aleksandar Trajkovski struck the only goal of the game in the second minute of added time, inflicting Italy’s first defeat in 60 home World Cup qualifiers.

“It’s hard to say something right now, I don’t know what to say,” Mancini told reporters.

It is also a shock for Italy after having won the delayed 2020 European Championship last summer against England in dramatic fashion in Wembley.

“Last summer was the most beautiful joy, now comes the greatest disappointment. It is not easy to think of other things, I am very sorry for the boys: I love them much more tonight than in July.

“I am the coach, I am the first responsible, the boys are not. They have a great future, they are strong players for the future of the national team. We did not deserve this defeat.”

Italy had 32 shots at goal to North Macedonia’s five, but the combination of heroic defending, blocked shots and wasted chance left Italy vulnerable to a North Macedonia counter-attack and that is what happened.

“I’m proud of my teammates, we are all destroyed and broken but we have to start again,” Italy captain Giorgio Chiellini said. “At the moment it’s difficult to talk about it, it will remain a great hole.

“I hope that the coach will stay because he is essential for this team. Now we have to return to winning, go to the Euros and in four years time return to this blessed World Cup.”

This was a campaign of missed opportunities for Italy. In an easy group, Mancini’s side should have qualified directly with ease, and a Jorginho missed a penalty against Switzerland last year that would have given them a win to qualify automatically.

“It is a huge disappointment,” Jorginho told Italian outlet Rai Sport after Thursday’s loss. “It hurts, it hurts so much.

“We have always created and dominated matches but we have not been able to finish teams off. It is not to blame anyone in particular but it is the reality.

“I don’t know why we haven’t been able to do this, I am also involved in this, and it hurts me to think about it.”