Prandelli takes heart from debut defeat as Italy look to rebuild

Italy have a new coach, a gaggle of promising new players and a new outlook after their disastrous first-round exit from the World Cup. But still the
Azzurri cannot find a way to win.

The 2006 World Cup winners were beaten 1-0 by Ivory Coast at Upton Park in coach Cesare Prandelli's first game in charge on Tuesday, extending Italy's streak without a victory to seven matches. "A loss hurts more after other losses," said the midfielder Daniele de Rossi, who was captain for the friendly. "It's been a horrible year up to this point, but this is just the beginning of a new two-year term."

Italy open their 2012 European Championship qualifying against Estonia and the Faroe Islands next month and will have only one round of Serie A to prepare, with the Italian league season not due to begin until 28 August. The Azzurri have not won since beating Sweden 1-0 in a friendly in November.

"We've got to understand that one friendly in August isn't enough to regain our competitiveness. It's a long-term job that requires everyone working together," said the Italian football federation president, Giancarlo Abete.

Five players made their international debuts against Ivory Coast and full-back Marco Motta went close to scoring in the 47th minute when he shot against the post before defender Kolo Touré headed the African side ahead in the 55th.

"With only three days of training we couldn't ask for anything more," said Prandelli, who signed a four-year contract when Marcello Lippi resigned after the World Cup.

The most highly awaited debuts were made by Internazionale's 19-year-old forward Mario Balotelli, who is still expected to move to Manchester City, and the Brazilian-born striker Amauri, who recently gained Italian citizenship. Prandelli also recalled the talented but temperamental playmaker Antonio Cassano, who was spurned by Lippi. Cassano showed flashes of creativity, floating a cross almost from the touchline that Amauri just headed over four minutes before half-time, while Balotelli appeared to struggle physically.

"Mario was playing his very first game. I really like the way he cuts across the pitch – he's got a real striker's style and he's got desire and enthusiasm," said Prandelli, the former Fiorentina manager. "The future is in his hands, just like Antonio."

With Fabio Cannavaro retired from the international game and goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon recovering from back surgery, De Rossi was the captain. The centre-back Giorgio Chiellini was one of the few others left over from the World Cup side. "We've got less experience and a lower average age but a lot more enthusiasm," Chiellini said. "We were just unlucky tonight. We've got a new group and we're all trying to work together to get Italy back to the level where it belongs."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor