Inter keep faith with loser Lippi

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The Independent Football

Internazionale announced yesterday that their coach, Marcello Lippi, will remain at the helm, despite the team's surprise early exit from the Champions' League.

Internazionale announced yesterday that their coach, Marcello Lippi, will remain at the helm, despite the team's surprise early exit from the Champions' League.

The Inter general manager Gabriele Oriali confirmed the vote of confidence on the club's website, less than 24 hours after the Serie A side were knocked out of the qualifying round by the unheralded Helsingborg of Sweden.

"The disappointment is enormous... requiring a reflection on the errors committed," said Oriali. "But a game at the beginning of the season, even an important one, cannot cancel the club's faith in the team and the coach."

Wednesday's game ended in a scoreless draw, after Helsingborg won the first leg two weeks ago 1-0. Uruguay's Alvaro Recoba failed to convert a penalty in the 90th minute which would have rescued the Italians.

Lippi, who won three Serie A titles with Juventus, has come under fire since arriving at Inter last season, though his talent-laden squad has been hampered by injuries, including the loss of Christian Vieri and Brazil's Ronaldo.

After refusing to speak with the press on Wednesday night, the 52-year-old coach described his club's exit as "my worst moment since coming to Inter".

Diego Maradona's contribution to Napoli, the Italian club with whom he enjoyed a controversial relationship, will be marked by the decision to retire his No 10 jersey.

The club announced the decision to honour the Argentinian yesterday. Maradona, 39, played for Napoli from 1984 to 1991. He scored 115 goals in helping the club win two league titles and the Uefa Cup. But it was also in Naples that Maradona's public battle with cocaine began, leading to two 15-month football suspensions for drug violations.

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