Prandelli tempers Italian optimism
Italy coach Cesare Prandelli has told his players to keep their feet on the ground after Friday night's victory in Slovenia moved the Azzurri six points clear in their UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying group.
Thiago Motta scored the only goal as Italy preserved their unbeaten record in Group C with four matches remaining. "It's absolutely not done yet," Prandelli said. "There are still several games left to play and we still have a lot of work to do."
Prandelli was nevertheless satisfied with his team's performance against Slovenia, who had never lost to the Azzurri on home soil. The Italian press had been critical of the national team's recent results, having played Germany and Romania in friendlies and settled for draws in each.
"We played well against Slovenia," Prandelli said. "We are considered by some as an Italy of Serie B and that is an extra motivation for us. Victories allow you to work better, especially in terms of confidence."
Motta, meanwhile, who scored his first goal for the Azzurri since making his national team debut in last month's friendly against Germany, could not hide his delight. "We have won and I have scored," the Inter Milan midfielder said. "I could not have asked for a better outcome.
"I am delighted. I want to thank my team-mates and the coach, who has given me confidence. We must continue on this path. We are a very strong group but we can do a lot better. The important thing for us is to go out on the pitch and do our job."
Italy take on Ukraine in a friendly in Kiev on Tuesday. Prandelli has yet to announce if Manchester City forward Mario Balotelli and Roma midfielder Daniele De Rossi will return to the squad for that game.
Both players were dropped by Prandelli for breaching the team's code of conduct while competing for their respective clubs. "We will see how we are and evaluate the situation," Prandelli said.