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Mancini to stay despite Italian WC failure

Roberto Mancini has said he will stay on as Italy coach despite the team’s failure to qualify for the World Cup again, but Austrian coach Franco Foda is to step down after their exit at the hands of Wales.

Italy, who won the European Championship only eight months ago, lost to North Macedonia 1-0 in the playoffs on Thursday and will now miss a second successive World Cup. The previous failure led to the dismissal of coach Gian Piero Ventura and the appointment of Mancini.

However, the Italian soccer federation this time has decided to stick with the coach who revitalised the national team and led it to the Euro 2020 title. In May the 57-year-old Mancini was given a contract extension taking him to the end of the 2026 World Cup.

“We need to start again,” Mancini said on Monday. “I talked to the president, we’re in agreement on everything … we’ll have time to discuss what we need to improve.

“I’m still young and I wanted to win a European Championship and a World Cup, we’ll have to wait for the second a little bit. I like this work and I know that with the players we can organise again something important. Apart from the disappointment, everything else is moving forwards.”

Mancini introduced an exciting brand of soccer after taking over from Ventura.

His team also broke several records, including setting a run of 37 unbeaten matches (before losing to Spain in the 2021 Nations League semi-final).

As Italy prepare to start from scratch again, veteran defender Leonardo Bonucci said Mancini remains the right man for the job.

“What the coach has given us in these three years is something unique,” Bonucci said. “He has created an empathy that is rare to see at Coverciano (the Italy team’s headquarters).

“For us continuing with the coach is just the logical thing to do: his ideas, his human value are unquestionable. The result of a one-off match can change opinions, but those who live this every day only want to continue this path.”

Italy begin the rebuild with a friendly on Tuesday against a Turkish side which also missed out on Qatar. “We need to start again with a new cycle,” Mancini said.

Foda, who took charge of the Austrian team in 2018, said he will quit after Tuesday’s friendly in Scotland.

“I take full responsibility for the fact that we didn’t qualify for the World Cup,” he said.

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