Italy coach Conte quashes predecessor Prandelli’s ‘no future’ claims

Florence, Sep 1 (IANS) Italy head coach Antonio Conte has quashed claims of his predecessor Cesarre Prandelii, who has predicted a tough road ahead for the four-time FIFA World Cup champions due to the slow development of the country’s football talents.

“I see no future for la Nazionale (national team). It’s hard to see a future for la Nazionale,” Prandelli had said on Sunday, in a scathing attack on the footballing structure in the country.

Conte responded on Monday, by saying: “He said that our national team doesn’t have a future? He had four great years as the Azzurri coach and then he encountered the problems that surround the team.

“However, we now have to focus and work with what we have at our disposal and make the most of it. Coaches are like tailors — we have to create the outfit with whatever material we have, and this material is great,” Conte told the Italian football team’s official website.

Prandelli, with experience of coaching several clubs in his native country as well as other teams in Europe, said Italian clubs are also responsible for the decline, being party to a “sick football system”.

But Conte claimed the big Italian clubs are investing a lot and hoped the results will be delivered in the upcoming European club competitions.

“The fact that our bigger clubs have started investing large sums again compared to the previous seasons means that there is the will to take Italian football back to the highest levels. I hope they’ll prove it on the pitch in the European competitions as well,” Conte, who guided current Italian champions Juventus to three Serie A titles between 2011 and 2014, said.

Conte’s squad has begun preparations for two important European Championship qualifiers against Malta (September 3, here) and Bulgaria (September 6, Palermo).

He said it is time for his players to get serious again and temporarily forget about club duties.

“The duty now is to focus on the Azzurri. It’s an important week for us, we can seal qualification to the European Championship with two wins over Malta and Bulgaria. The players are well aware that there will be no discussion of club matters while they are here,” the 46-year-old said.

“It’s quite obvious that those who’ve won with their clubs are happier than those who’ve lost, but we have to focus on our games. The aim is to win them all and finish top of the group; to win all of our four remaining matches would also help our confidence, we would grow from every point of view.”

The team held a training session on Monday without midfielder Sebastian Giovinco, who has withdrawn from the squad after suffering an injury during his club commitments.

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