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Friday 24 November 2017

Ventura to learn Italy fate

Italy coach Giampiero Ventura. Photo: Marco Luzzani/Getty Images
Italy coach Giampiero Ventura. Photo: Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

Giampiero Ventura is set to learn his fate as Italy boss in the next 24 hours after the Azzurri failed to reach the World Cup for the first time in 60 years.

Italian Football Federation (FIGC) president Carlo Tavecchio has called a meeting to discuss the country’s failure to qualify for next year’s tournament in Russia.

Gianluigi Buffon was one of several star names to call time on their international careers, bringing the curtain down on his 175-cap stint after Monday’s goalless draw with Sweden in Milan, which saw them lose their qualifying play-off 1-0 and meant that the four-time world champions would be absent from next year’s finals.

It is the first time since 1958 that an Italian team has not qualified for a World Cup and the fallout has reverberated around the game, with Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport hailing the arrival of the “apocalypse.”

Tavecchio said: “We are deeply bitter and disappointed for the failure to qualify for the World Cup, it is a sports failure that needs a shared solution and for this reason I called a meeting tomorrow with all the federal components to conduct a thorough analysis and decide on future choices.”

The 69-year-old Ventura, who is under contract until 2020, apologised after the match, but stopped short of resigning.

He said in a post-match press conference which he arrived at well over an hour after full-time: “At this moment I can only apologise to the Italians, not for the will or effort but for the result which as I know is the main thing.”

Big guns that missed out

ITALY: The Azurri’s absence is surely the biggest shock. The 2006 World Cup winners were humbled by a determined Sweden side. Even after the Swedes won 1-0 in Stockholm, most expected Italy to do the required job back home in the San Siro, but Sweden defended as resolutely and professionally as you would expect an Italy side to, grinding out a 0-0 to take them through.

HOLLAND: Another nation eliminated by the Swedes were the Dutch. Despite winning 2-0 on the final match day, it wasn’t enough as Holland needed a seven goal swing to pip Sweden to the play-offs on goal difference. This is the second successive tournament Holland have failed to qualify for having humiliatingly missed out on the 24-team Euro 2016 too.

CHILE: Multi-million pound men Arturo Vidal, Claudio Bravo and Alexis Sanchez will also have to watch from afar as the South American outfit finished sixth out of ten, not even earning an inter-confederation play-off spot.

USA: Although ultimately knocked out amid great controversy, the USA failed to qualify after a poor qualifying campaign. This was their first non-World Cup qualification since 1990.

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