Gianfranco Zola believes Cesare Prandelli is the right man to take Italy forward after their shock exit from the 2010 FIFA World Cup™. Prandelli has been appointed as successor to Marcello Lippi, whose Azzurri side were eliminated in the group stages in South Africa following a 3-2 defeat against Slovakia.

The former Fiorentina manager will be officially unveiled as national coach on 1 July and Zola feels the 52-year-old will help reinvigorate Italian football.

"I definitely like him," said Zola, who won 35 caps for Italy. "He is a young manager with ideas and energy and I think it is the perfect assignment. I think he will bring the fresh air of youth to the team and that is a good thing, something we have to work on.

"There will be moments where we will struggle but it is a path we have to go through. I am expecting him to select some young players and to work downwards in the national teams, restructuring our youth system which right now is the one which is struggling the most."

He is a young manager with ideas and energy and I think it is the perfect assignment.

Gianfranco Zola on new Italy coach Cesare Prandelli

Italy's failure at South Africa 2010 comes four years after they won the tournament in Germany, although Zola believes there were problems even at that point. "We knew we didn't have a big team this year but I think nobody was expecting that," Zola said.

"But I think it summarises our moment right now. It is a difficult time for Italian football and it goes back in time. I think the win in the World Cup in Germany somehow covered all the problems we were going through and I think this shows everybody now that it is a difficult moment. But in difficult times, Italian people get together and produce something good, so I think this is an opportunity for us to get better, to see what is going wrong and to try and improve."

Zola was sacked as manager of West Ham United in May after a disappointing 2009-10 campaign in which the Hammers only just avoided relegation from the Premier League. The 43-year-old is about to start a new coaching badge in England and has vowed to come back to football management stronger.

"The last year has been a difficult time in which we have had a few problems, but personally as a manager, I think I have learned a lot," he said. "Now is the moment in which I want to work on a few things that came out and then come back stronger, so I am looking forward to this new course."