- Italy drew the match against Northern Ireland 0-0 on Monday night
- Azzurri’s manager, Roberto Mancini, is hopeful that Italy can win the 2022 FIFA World Cup
Azzurri’s manager Roberto Mancini believes that his side can still win the 2022 FIFA World Cup despite their failure to top their group in the qualifying stage.
The Azzurri finished second in Group C after drawing 0-0 with Northern Ireland in the final game of the campaign on late Monday night.
The Italy International Football team will have to, very carefully, navigate the playoffs if they are to qualify for the tournament in Qatar in 2022, however, Mancini believes they should not be written off as candidates to win the world crown given they come into the tournament after winning the EURO 2020 (11th July 2021).
Speaking to RAI Sport, Mancini said, “We can’t do anything about it now, we have this game in March and will try to give our best,” referring to the playoffs.
He added, “At the moment, we are struggling to score goals, despite dominating possession and the initiative.
“Northern Ireland put everyone in defence and we struggle to break sides like that down.
“It’s a pity because we should have sealed the group long before it came to this. We just need to rediscover what characterised us up until today.
“We had two missed penalties in the decisive matches, so that shows we had the chances to win.”
The 56 year old also said, “Now we prepare for March and we go into the playoffs confident. We’ll book our place in the World Cup in March and hopefully win the tournament too.”
Italy will enter the European World Cup play-offs in late-March, next year, to determine their fate.
The competition will feature 10 group runners up joined by the two best group winners from the 2020-21 UEFA Nations League that have neither qualified already nor entered the playoffs already as group runners up.
Only 3 countries will make it out of the 12-team playoff to reach Qatar next year for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
It has been just a little over 4 months since Italy triumphed the EURO 2020 that served as definitive redemption for missing the 2018 FIFA World Cup, however, their stumbles in qualifying this autumn have tempered the mood around Roberto Mancini’s side.
Azzurri’s attack has lost its high-flying identity from summer when the team scored close to two goals per match at the Euros, they have been almost silenced in qualifying outside of an expected 5-0 win against Lithuania on the 9th September.
Italy will face the same fate as 2018 if they falter in the playoffs and such a failure would make it their first time of having failed to reach the World Cup tournaments in consecutive cycles.
Before the match against Northern Ireland, Mancini said, “No, [no shame],” and added, “The important thing is to reach the World Cup, it doesn’t matter how we get there.”