Sorry Italy coach Ventura denies quitting

Nov 14, 2017 - 12:38 AM Beleaguered Italy coach Gian Piero Ventura has denied speculation that he has resigned and apologised to his countrymen after his team's failure to qualify for the World Cup.

The 69-year-old journeyman said he would not decide on his future before speaking to the Italian soccer federation (FIGC).

"I haven't resigned because I haven't yet spoken to the (FIGC) president (Carlo Tavecchio)," he told reporters after Italy were held goalless by Sweden over two legs to lose their qualifying playoff 1-0 on aggregate.

"I absolutely apologise for the result but not for the effort we put in or our desire to win.

"It's a terrible result from a sporting point of view. I'm upset.

"I am proud to be part of the Blue team and to have worked with great champions."

Having never coached a major club before taking over the national team last year, Ventura was widely criticised for poor tactical decisions against Sweden as the Azzurri failed to reach the World Cup for the first time in 60 years.

"The target was the World Cup. We will confront the problem with the federation, I can't say any more than that at the moment," Ventura said.

The failure also spells the end of an era for the Italian defence with captain Gianluigi Buffon immediately announcing his international retirement after 175 caps.

"We knew about the goodbye of the veterans," Ventura said, referring to several older players who will almost certainly not play for their country again.

The others include defender Andrea Barzagli and Giorgio Chiellini and midfielder Daniele De Rossi.

The 34-year-old reacted angrily toward coaching staff when he was asked to warm up ahead of a mooted substitute appearance in Milan.

"It was a fraught moment and I wanted them to bring on the attacking players," he told Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"I thought maybe (Lorenzo) Insigne or (Stephan) El Shaarawy would be more effective than me."

Source: AAP

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