Italy's new coach Cesare Prandelli said he was optimistic over the future of the national team after their disastrous exit from the FIFA World Cup™ last week.
"I don't want to think about troubles, I want to start off with optimism. I want to offer a national team with quality players," he said at a press conference. Prandelli, 52, said his goal was to "prove to everyone that this was only a parentheses."
Reigning champions Italy were bundled out of the FIFA World Cup following a shock 3-2 defeat to Slovakia on June 24. That left them at the bottom of what had looked like a fairly easy Group F, including Paraguay and New Zealand, condemning Italy to their worst ever FIFA World Cup showing.
Many observers blame the fiasco of the reigning world champions on former coach Marcello Lippi's conservative choice of bringing experienced but ageing players to South Africa, and hope Prandelli will change that. Presented by embattled Italian Football Federation president Giancarlo Abete, Prandelli said "those that deserve it will be called up," adding that the new team would be the result of "meritocratic choices."
"We shouldn't be throwing away everything. Italian soccer has qualities," Prandelli said. He also opened the door to Italian players born abroad, a subject of much debate in Italy. "If they have Italian citizenship and they play really well, I don't see why one should not call them up," Prandelli said.
Formerly a Juventus midfielder, Prandelli spent five years at Fiorentina, twice taking them into the UEFA Champions League, having previously coached Parma and AS Roma.
Prandelli also said he hoped Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, who was forced out of Italy's opening match at the FIFA World Cup by a recurrence of a herniated disc, would be part of his team. "I hope to be able to give him the captain's armband at the  European championships," he said. Buffon, 32, has had back problems for two and half years.