Italy faced with bitter reception

26 June 2010 12:00

Italy arrived in Rome on Saturday morning and unlike four years ago, after a triumphant World Cup in Germany, there were not many fans waiting for them at Fiumicino airport.

The Azzurri endured a shocking early exit from the tournament in South Africa, finishing bottom of Group F. After their famous win over France in 2006, thousands of fans greeted the Italians in the Eternal City, but this time less than 100 supporters were on hand and many of them expressed their disappointment.

"There is a lot of bitterness," said Italy forward Fabio Quagliarella. "It's understandable. We have said sorry to our fans. Now we must construct an Italy side that is always strong."

Shouts of "Shame on you" were directed mainly at coach Marcello Lippi, Fiorentina striker Alberto Gilardino and Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro.

Italy left the World Cup without a win after disappointing draws against Paraguay and New Zealand before falling to a 3-2 defeat against Slovakia in their final group game.

Italy will unveil Cesare Prandelli as Lippi's successor on July 1.

"Next week we will present Prandelli as the new coach," said Italy Football Federation president Giancarlo Abete.

"There's the need, the duty to start again, knowing how important this national team is for millions of fans.

"Prandelli has been chosen because of his technical quality, his capacity to work with youngsters.

"We want him to remain for a long time that will end after the next World Cup. He has signed a four-year contract."

Source: PA