Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Lippi Takes Over as Italy Coach Again

ROME (AP)—Marcello Lippi gave up a life of leisure to return as Italy’s national team coach, less than two years after guiding the Azzurri to their fourth World Cup title.

“Naturally, I’m very happy to pick up where I left off. But picking up where I left off also means that the Euros didn’t go so great, or I would still be on the beach in Viareggio,” the well-tanned Lippi said at a news conference Tuesday, referring to his hometown on the Tuscan seaside.

Lippi was rehired last week when Roberto Donadoni’s contract was terminated after Italy lost to eventual champion Spain on penalty kicks in the European Championship quarterfinals last month.

“We’re still the World Cup champions. We’ve got the team that won the Club World Cup (AC Milan). We have a top under-23 squad. And we are one of the favorites for the Olympics,” Lippi added. “The world of Italian football should hold its head high.”

Lippi’s first task it to qualify Italy for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. The Azzurri are grouped with Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Ireland and Montenegro, with the group winner advancing and the second-place team most likely going to a playoff.

“These last two years were not completely lost,” Lippi said. “A large number of players from the World Cup stayed in the group, and Donadoni inserted some key new players.”

Italy looked old, slow and overly defensive, and no Italian forward scored at the Euros.

“We’ve got to show a bit of daring in certain situations, like in the semifinal with Germany, when I put four forwards on,” Lippi said, recalling the 2-0 extra-time win in the World Cup semifinals. “We’re going to try and show some aggressive football right away.”

Lippi resigned immediately after leading Italy to its fourth World Cup title in Berlin, largely because he was uncomfortable that he and his son had been linked to the Italian match-fixing scandal.

“I would never have left if it wasn’t in the middle of that situation,” Lippi said. “It was very tough to see my name and family members linked to those things. At that time, it wasn’t possible to continue. Now the situation is different, the discussion is open and we’ve gotten through that period.”

Lippi’s first game back in charge will be an exhibition against Austria on Aug. 20 at Nice, France.

Text Source: By ANDREW DAMPF, AP Sports Writer (http://sports.yahoo.com/) - http://sports.yahoo.com/sow/news;_ylt=AlbvRfcxlcqpIkbEUtQ1S3smw7YF?slug=ap-italy-lippi&prov=ap&type=lgns

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