The talking point of this year’s FIFA World Cup will no doubt be the failure of some of the pre-tournament favourites to make it past the group stages. France, Cameroon and defending champions Italy are just a few of the big names that will be taking an early flight home and with Group G and H action set to resume later on today, Spain and the Ivory Coast could be joining them.
So who is to blame for the Azzurri’s early exit? One of the character traits of being a good leader is accepting responsibility and Marcelo Lippi clearly expressed this when he took full responsibility for Italy’s disastrous World Cup campaign.
An awe struck Lippi watched as a clinical Slovakia ruthlessly ripped through his ‘rock hard’ defense right from kick-off. Going 2 goals and with less than 20 minutes left in the game, many Italian fans including myself, had already thrown in the towel.
Pirlo’s introduction in the 56th minute provided some stability in the midfield but it was not until the 81st minute that they ripped the full benefits. After some neat passing, Quagliarella had his shot blocked by Muche but Di Natale was on hand to place the rebound in the back of the net.
The goal sparked Italy to life and for the rest of the match, the Italians provided attack after attack-most of the time sending all their players up in search of the much needed win. Quagliarella pulled a goal back for the Italians but it was ruled as offside.
The Italians were however dealt a hard blow when substitute Kopunek scored in the 89th minute after very sloppy defending from the Italians. Italy manged to pull one back in stoppage time however the damage had already been done.
A visibly upset Lippi stormed off the pitch immediately after the final whistle in stark contrast to his opposite number Vladimir Weiss who’s joyful celebrations were a sight to behold. Leading his side to the second round in their first ever FIFA World Cup tournament is definitely a big success.
In his post match press conference, Lippi had this to say:
“Right, ok, I take all responsibility, no excuses. If a team turns up to such an important tournament with terror in their heads, hearts and mind and they fail to express themselves, then it means that the coach didn’t prepare it well,” he told the press.
“I am sorry for the fans, the FIGC and everyone. I thought this team would do well, but I have not prepared them well. I expected everything, but not this and the way we played.
“I am sorry that I am closing my job like this. I expected everything, not this.
“I take all responsibility. The choices, the way I presented this team in the last three matches.
“Good luck to my successor and thanks to everyone for the last four years.”
Even with such a heartfelt and true apology, the Italian media are still bound to demand a thorough explanation as to why some of its key players were excluded from the squad.
Lippi also has to deal with Irate fans who will be anxiously waiting at Rome’s Leonardo Da Vinci airport ready to give him a piece of their mind. Its such a shame that his career had to end this way, however, Lippi has no one to blame but himself.
Photo Credit: from BSR-12