Image of Marcello Lippi courtesy of Paul Blank
The Azzurri will face New Zealand in their last test before the first round group game against the USA next Monday in the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup.
Mister Lippi had a few remarks from the Italian training ground at South Downs College in Irene. Specifically, about Italian players staying in Italy, Andrea Pirlo's potential transfer to Chelsea, and the warm reception by the Italian ex-pat community in South Africa.
"Tornare in Italia? Non mi permetto di dare consigli per gli acquisti a nessuna delle nostre squadre. Ma agli azzurri che son qui ho detto, cercate di tornare nel campionato italiano. Per scherzo aggiungo che così la Nazionale risparmia sui voli, ma in realtà più italiani ho nel nostro campionato e meglio è" ha detto il ct.
"Return to Italy? I'm not permitted to advise about acquisitions to anyone about our teams. But to the Azzurri that are here I have said, try to return to the Serie A. Jokingly, I said the National Team would save on air flights, but in reality, the more Italians that we have in the Serie A, the better it is."Pirlo — "Non è un problema, ovunque giochi. Un volo Londra-Roma è come un volo Milano-Roma".
"Da quando siamo andati in Germania - ha aggiunto - ci siamo resi conto di cosa voglia dire guadagnarsi la vita lontano da casa. Per questo tutte le comunità italiane all'estero sono nel nostro cuore. Ieri abbiamo potuto risocontrare il loro entusiasmo nel vivere qui."
"Pirlo: It is not a problem wherever he plays. A flight between London and Rome is like a flight from Milan to Rome."
Italian Source: La Gazzetta dello Sport, 10 June 2009.
"Since we were in Germany, we understood how tough it was to earn your living far from home. For this reason, all of the foreign Italian communities are in our heart. Yesterday, we were able to experience their enthusiasm for living here."
"Are you going to Chelsea? 'We will see...' "
Azzurri Starting XI: 4-2-3-1
Santon, Legrottaglie, Gamberini, Dossena
Gattuso (capt), Palombo
Rossi, G., Pepe, Quagliarella
New Zealand Starting XI: 4-4-2
Mulligan, Vicelich, Lochead. Boyens
Brockie, Brown (capt), Elliot, Bertos
On a cold and rainy winter night in Pretoria at the Super Stadium, in front of a sparse crowd of about 10,000, many of whom were supporting the Azzurri, Italy and New Zealand played their first official game against each other. Mister Lippi fielded another "experimental" side, with most of his usual starting XI on the bench. Fabio Cannavaro and Daniele De Rossi had minor injuries and were not available.
This was the 40th game for Mr. Lippi on the Azzurri bench. He has only lost one competitive game during his two tenures, and three overall.
The Azzurri were dressed in an all white kit (which usually does not bring them good fortune) to face the traditional "All Blacks" of New Zealand. The Kiwis seemed more organized and sharp. Actually, they were very aggressive and were called for two yellow cards (Brown and Boyens) during the first half.
In the 13th minute, Shane Smeltz headed a goal past a hesitant Marco Amelia to give New Zealand an early lead over the surprised Azzurri. A few minutes later, Smeltz had a very good opportunity to double his account, but he shot wide with Amelia beaten.
Giuseppe Rossi took a hard shot from the left flank that was barely off the mark, but the Azzurri looked out of sorts in the offensive end.
In the 33rd minute, Italy woke up with a well-constructed play that resulted in a goal. Simone Pepe launched a long ball from the right flank to Fabio Quagliarella, the new Napoli signing, who crossed the ball perfectly to an unmarked Alberto Gilardino. He headed the ball past Glen Moss for his 11th international goal.
But New Zealand kept up the pressure, and in the 42nd minute, it paid off. From a corner kick, Chris Killen smashed a perfect header past Amelia, who came off the line but failed to make contact with the ball. The Azzurri defenders did not offer much resistance. The first half ended, 1 x 2.
Andrea Pirlo came on for Giuseppe Rossi. Mr. Herbert of New Zealand did not make any changes. In the 48th minute, from a perfect cross again by Quagliarella, Gilardino headed in the second Italian goal. But a few minutes later, in the 57th, Amelia and Gamberini had a misunderstanding, and the Azzurri keeper took down Killen in the box. This has been a long night for the Palermo keeper, and Killen beat him from the spot into the left corner: 2 x 3 for New Zealand. At this point, Mr. Lippi had seen enough and sent in his big guns: Luca Toni, Riccardo Montolivo, Mauro Camoranesi, and Vincenzo Iaquinta.
In the 68th minute, from a through ball by Pirlo, Vincenzo Iaquinta curled a nice shot around Moss for the equalizer. Five minutes later in the 73rd, Iaquinta tapped in a shot by Montolivo that was parried down by Moss. For the first time of the night, the Azzurri had taken the lead.
A hard-fought win for the Azzurri, and a very good performance that will bode will for New Zealand (who will face Spain on Sunday.) No doubt, Mr. Lippi will be concerned about the nervous presentation by Marco Amelia. If Gigi Buffon ever becomes injured, Italy has significant concerns for an adequate back-up.
The Azzurri will face the USA on Monday, 15 June from Pretoria at 2030 local time.
My Men of the Match: Fabio Quagliarella for Italy and Chris Killen for New Zealand.
Mister Lippi after the Game on RAI Sports
"We have to work more, we are a little behind. A few errors that I am concerned about, but it was a good training session."