Italy arrived in Rome this morning but, in stark contrast to four years ago, after they lifted the FIFA World Cup™ in Germany, there were not many fans waiting for them at Fiumicino airport.
The Azzurri, who endured a shocking early exit from the tournament this week in South Africa as they finished bottom of Group F, were greeted by less than 100 supporters as they touched down in the Italian capital.
Italy left the FIFA World Cup without a win after disappointing draws against Paraguay and New Zealand before falling to a 3-2 defeat against Slovakia in their final group game.
"There is a lot of bitterness," said Italy forward Fabio Quagliarella. "It's understandable. We have said sorry to our fans. Now we must construct an Italy side that is always strong."
We have said sorry to our fans. Now we must construct an Italy side that is always strong.
Italy will unveil Cesare Prandelli as Lippi's successor on 1 July. "Next week we will present Prandelli as the new coach," said Italy Football Federation president Giancarlo Abete. "There's the need, the duty to start again, knowing how important this national team is for millions of fans.
"Prandelli has been chosen because of his technical quality, his capacity to work with youngsters," he added. "We want him to remain for a long time that will end after the next World Cup. He has signed a four-year contract."
Abete does not believe announcing Prandelli as the new manager ahead of Italy's trip to South Africa earlier this month had hindered the side. "No, I don't believe that was the case," he said. "In any case, we had no alternative because Lippi's wish was to leave the national team after the World Cup. We had to make a decision regarding the new coach in order for Prandelli to free himself from his contract with Fiorentina."