Italians to count on Zola in Georgia

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The Independent Online
Gianfranco Zola is likely to lead Italy's attack in Georgia today as the Italians seek the win that would leave them needing only a draw against England in Rome next month to qualify for next year's World Cup.

But coach Cesare Maldini is wary of the home side, who were unfortunate not to force a draw in Perugia last October and whose 1-0 defeat may have hastened the departure of Maldini's predecessor, Arrigo Sacchi.

Maldini will only make his team selection after a final training session today. Zola seems set to start, partnered by either Pierluigi Casiraghi or Christian Vieri.

Roberto Baggio is set to return and Antonio Conte may also make his international comeback nearly a year after he was injured in the last game against Georgia.

The Italians reckon that, on top of home advantage in Tbilisi's intimidating stadium, Georgia has a stronger squad than a year ago, with more players based abroad. Manchester City's Georgi Kinkladze will be the man they are watching. But Newcastle United's Temur Ketsbaya will also be hoping to go one better than last year, when only an exceptional save stopped him netting a late equaliser against Italy.

The Georgians, who will want to do better for their home fans than the 4-1 defeat in Poland in June, can call on front men playing in the Swiss, Turkish and Israeli leagues as well as Ajax's Shota Arveladze, who scored in Poland.

GEORGIA (probable): Zoidze; Tskhadadze, Kaladze, Kobiashvili, Chikhradze; Gogich- aishvili, Kinkladze, Djamaruli, Ketsbaya; Arveladze, Kavelashvili.

ITALY (probable): Pagliuca; Cannavaro, Maldini, Nesta, Panucci; Conte, Di Livio, Di Matteo, Lombardo; Zola, Casiraghi.