Italy coach Marcello Lippi has hailed countryman Fabio Capello as "a winner" and named England as one of his favourites to win the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.
Lippi is attempting to steer his team to a second straight FIFA World Cup title. Their tournament starts today against Paraguay in Cape Town in a group that also features New Zealand and Slovakia. But the 62-year-old took time out in his build-up to praise fellow Italian Capello.
"England are one of the great threats," he said. "It is not because Capello is Italian that is important. It is because he is good, he is a winner. He is someone who has always built very pragmatic teams that are very strong, very good."
It is not because Capello is Italian that is important. It is because he is good, he is a winner.
While Lippi is tipping England to do well in the tournament, he believes Brazil and Spain were clear favourites for the title. "I have said before that the favourites are Brazil and Spain," he said. "But personally I also feel Argentina, Germany, Italy, France and England can all win, and be careful of Holland. They have all come here because they want to win."
Italy come into the tournament under pressure after far from ideal preparations that saw them lose to Mexico and draw with Switzerland. Lippi, however, is confident his team is ready to launch their FIFA World Cup bid.
"One of the most important things I learned from the World Cup last time is that everything that comes before it counts for nothing," he said. "You can have have 10 great games and then the World Cup comes and it can be totally different. I can tell you that we have a great will to do well."
The Italian squad is all fit, with the exception of AC Milan playmaker Andrea Pirlo who injured his left calf before the team left for South Africa. He will not play against Paraguay but Lippi said he could be ready for their second match against New Zealand.