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Conte focused on future

Italy coach Antonio Conte was unwilling to say whether his team had taken a step backwards after a 1-0 loss to Portugal on Tuesday.

Conte’s side saw their winless run extend to four matches as Eder scored a 52nd-minute winner in the friendly at the Stade de Geneve in Carouge.

Since the former Juventus coach took over in August last year, Italy have won five of 10 matches and lost just one.

Conte wanted to continue looking forward to Italy’s next outings – two Euro 2016 qualifiers in September.

“These games are important because they help the players develop and give the coaches a lot of insight. I am not disappointed at all,” he said.

“Have we taken a step backwards? I’m not thinking about that.

“I only care about letting the players gain experience, because they have played so few games on an international stage. The most important thing is to keep working. Defeats can be useful for this.”

Italy are second to Croatia in Group H of Euro 2016 qualifying, but still two points clear of third-placed Norway.

Conte said improvement was the main goal.

“I really don’t understand how Italy can be behind some national teams; it must be because of our form in recent years,” he said.

“I only focus on the present and the future. We have worked a lot in my first year as head coach, but there is still work to do. We have to, and we want to, improve.”

Wed 17 Jun, 2015
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