Italy coach Marcello Lippi says he will use the FIFA Confederations Cup starting on June 14 to build a team capable of retaining the World Cup in South Africa next year.
The ‘Azzurri’ staged their first training session on Monday in chilly, windy conditions at a college in this village between Johannesburg and Pretoria ahead of Group B matches against the United States, Brazil and Egypt next week.
“We will be trying to mix a few youngsters with the experienced footballers we have as this is how you blend a team for the World Cup next year,” said the 2006 World Cup-winning coach.
Lippi told reporters he was relishing the chance to spend three weeks with his squad, who lead the Republic of Ireland by one point in a European qualifying group and have a game in hand.
“The last time I had the players together for a long period we did not do too badly,” joked Lippi as he referred to the 2006 World Cup which Italy won after a penalty shoot-out with France in Germany.
“We usually get the players only for a short period of time so we will look to use this longer period constructively. Our immediate objective is to get some form going.
“I will be using players who are in good physical condition for the match against New Zealand,” he said ahead of a friendly between the Confederations Cup qualifiers at Atteridgeville near Pretoria on Wednesday night.
Italy will also play a training game against a local club two days later before facing the Unites States on June 15 at Loftus Versfeld, one of three rugby union venues that will host matches.
The ‘Azzurri’ are making their debut in the Confederations Cup, an eight nation tournament designed to test the readiness of South Africa to stage the World Cup one year later.
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