Italy coach Marcello Lippi on Wednesday refused to be drawn on his future post-FIFA World Cup™.
The reigning world champions have had a two-day get-together with Lippi calling up a 29-man squad from which he said he would likely pick his final 23-man World Cup party. But the man who led Italy to the title four years ago insisted he would not talk about his plans once the tournament in South Africa is over.
"There's no reason to know now who the coach will be on July 12 [the day after the World Cup final]," he said. "There's a World Cup at our door, in this competition Italy has always been a part of its history given that we've won four titles and are second only to Brazil, which is the quintessential football country and has won five. And if we'd have had a bit more luck in the penalty shoot-out in 1994 it would be Italy which has five titles."
Were Italy to win that fifth crown this time around, Lippi would join countryman Vittorio Pozzo as the only coach to have guided a team to successive World Cup titles. Pozzo was the coach when Italy won back-to-back titles in 1934 and 1938.
"I've never dreamed about doing what Pozzo did but I am aware that it's a possibility in South Africa," said Lippi. "Of course if it's happened only once in almost 100 years it means that its not an easy thing to achieve, but you can never say never."
Coming together as a group
Lippi would not discuss individuals but said that what he needs is a group that is united but also has some star quality. "The key is to create a group of players with a high technical level but also the right pyschology. Everyone has to be ready to put himself at the service of the others, that's the only way to get results," he said. "Of course you also need technical quality, players like (Gianluigi) Buffon, (Fabio) Cannavaro, (Francesco) Totti and (Alessandro) Del Piero.
"If you only have a compact group of good lads you won't go very far hence you need quality. Just how much of that we have we'll discover during the World Cup," said Lippi.
Meanwhile Italian Football Federation president Giancarlo Abete insisted he has not set Lippi a minimum target. Two years ago at the European Championships it was widely reported in the press that Abete had set Roberto Donadoni a minimum target of the semi-finals and when Italy came up short - they were beaten on penalties by eventual winners Spain in the quarters - he was fired.
But Lippi, who is expected to step down after the World Cup, does not have such a burden. "Italy never starts with a minimum objective but to represent with pride a country that has won four world titles," said Abete.