Italy turn to Balotelli, Cassano

Italy's new coach Cesare Prandelli enlisted stars Mario Balotelli and Antonio Cassano for the team's first match since its disastrous exit from the 2010 FIFA World Cup™, the football federation said on Friday.

Prandelli's predecessor Marcello Lippi snubbed both players in choosing his squad for the finals in South Africa team and many observers blamed the dismal showing on Lippi's decision to tap experienced but ageing players.

Besides Inter Milan's teenaged forward Balotelli, Prandelli called up Brazilian-born forward Amauri - who just recently obtained an Italian passport - and six other newcomers for the friendly match against the Ivorians next Monday in London.

Prandelli enlisted only nine of the players called by Lippi, including goalkeeper Federico Marchetti, midfielders Riccardo Montolivo and Daniele De Rossi and forward Fabio Quagliarella, Italy's football federation said in a statement.

Reigning champions Italy were embarrassingly bundled out of South Africa 2010 after three matches following a shock 3-2 defeat to Slovakia that left them at the bottom of what had looked like a fairly easy group, including Paraguay and rank outsiders New Zealand.

After the game against the west Africans, Italy will play Estonia on 3 September and the Faroe Islands on 7 September in qualifying matches for UEFA EURO 2012 in Poland and Ukraine.

Formerly a Juventus midfielder, Prandelli spent five years coaching Fiorentina, twice taking them into the UEFA Champions League, having previously coached Parma and AS Roma.