Coach Marcello Lippi is adamant he has the players in South Africa to successfully defend Italy's FIFA World Cup™ crown despite scraping a 1-1 draw with New Zealand. The All Whites achieved their greatest result by holding the four-time world champions after grabbing a stunning early goal.
They took a shock lead through Shane Smeltz in the seventh minute only for Vincenzo Iaquinta to level through a penalty later in the first half. But Italy could not find the winner despite laying siege to the New Zealand goal in the second half.
Lippi was asked whether he had the players in his squad to again become the best team in the world after beating France to win the 2006 FIFA World Cup Final in Germany. "We have the super goalscorer of our championship in Alberto Gilardino, Vincenzo Iaquinta is getting back to being fit and we have Mauro Camoranesi as well," Lippi said.
"I don't think it is a problem in that area. We are trying to look into things and seeing things that didn't work. I am absolutely sure that we did not leave any phenomenal players at home. I've selected these man and I still believe in them."
Lippi said there was no panic in the Italian camp as they focus on getting a much-needed win against Slovakia at Ellis Park on Thursday, while New Zealand take on group leaders Paraguay on the same night at Polokwane. "We are not panicking at all, we are just really sorry that we didn't win a match that we should have won," he said.
"We played in our opponents' half of the field. We attacked all the way and we showed great willpower. Maybe they weren't as enterprising as they should have been."
Lippi said the Italian fans would have appreciated the way Italy fought back to get a draw against Paraguay, but may look at a draw with New Zealand in a different light. "Our fans appreciated what we did against Paraguay, but they are bound to be influenced that our opponent today was not a top level team," he said. "We have to look into the reasons why we were at fault against New Zealand today."
Budweiser Man-of-the-Match midfielder Daniele De Rossi insisted that Italy will be going all out for a win against Slovakia on Thursday to book their place in the last 16. "We are going to try to win, we have one result to qualify and we don't want to draw, we want to win, but unfortunately it hasn't been enough for far," he said.
"New Zealand are a good team, they're physical."