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Mancini: ‘It still hurts not to be at World Cup’

Italy coach Roberto Mancini says they must accept not being at the World Cup, even though it hurts not to be there. The Azzurri failed to qualify for a second successive competition and will be forced to watch the tournament from the sidelines. Speaking to Il Corriere Della Sera, Mancini discussed the situation and what will happen next for the national side:

“These are tough days because we are out, we must accept it but it hurts.

Did he imagine the Azzurri would not qualify for Qatar 2022?

“Especially after the draw against Bulgaria in Florence and the 0-0 in Basel against Switzerland, a match we should have won 3-0. However, I was convinced we’d have turned things around in Rome…”

Mancini had signed a contract extension until 2026 before winning the Euros in the summer of 2021. Why did he remain in charge after failing to qualify for the World Cup?

“I stayed because I want to take revenge, but now we can’t look so ahead,” he said. “The 2026 World Cup is far away. Now we must focus on the Nations League Finals and the qualification for the Euros, where we want to defend the title.

“I wanted to stay to chase the World Cup, but nothing is definitive in football and things can still change.

“We want to go to the next World Cup and hopefully win it.”

Will he watch every game at the World Cup?

“I will watch some games, not all of them, but surely the most interesting ones.”

Does he feel more disappointment for not being in Qatar or satisfaction for becoming European champion?

“Disappointment prevails, it’s strong and never leaves me alone,” he admitted.

“Hopefully, this feeling of emptiness will be gone in four years. I felt the same when I lost the Champions League Final with Sampdoria, I knew I wouldn’t have another chance.

“I re-watched every single qualification match and I am not saying we deserved to go to Qatar to defend the team. We made some mistakes, but not so badly to justify the elimination. I felt Switzerland would cause trouble for us and unfortunately I was right.”

Mancini insisted that Italy should have been at the World Cup after winning the Euros.

“Not only the European champions but the winners in every continent. I am saying it for football’s good. Likewise, who won the title in the previous edition should always be involved. It used to be like this in the past, football does not only make good decisions for itself.”

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