Antonio Nocerino hopes Antonio Conte returns to coach Italy as the celebrated football nation attempts to pick up the pieces after their failure to qualify for the World Cup.
Football’s showpiece international tournament will be staged without four-time champions Italy for the first time since 1958 following November’s embarrassing play-off defeat to Sweden.
Gian Piero Ventura was sacked after the shock 1-0 play-off loss, with Italy Under-21 coach Luigi Di Biagio appointed on a caretaker basis for this month’s international friendlies against Argentina and England.
Chelsea boss Conte, who oversaw Italy’s run to the Euro 2016 quarter-finals, is on the shortlist to replace Ventura, while Zenit’s Roberto Mancini and former Bayern Munich head coach Carlo Ancelotti have also been linked.
Highlights from Coach #DiBiagio‘s first training session at #Coverciano yesterday, as the National Team prepare for their upcoming friendly against #Argentina in #Manchester. #VivoAzzurro pic.twitter.com/peZ59wF4iE
— Italy (@azzurri) March 20, 2018
Reflecting on Italy’s absence from the World Cup for the first time in 60 years, former international Nocerino told Omnisport: “It’s a disaster. It’s a disaster for the players because they are my friends. For Italy, the country and football, it’s a disaster.
“The coach – Ventura – is the coach without international experience. He didn’t have big experience in Europe or in the international game, important matches.
“The Champions League and Serie A is totally different. The Premier League and the Champions League is totally different. The Champions League is the same as international football. Every team are strong.
“You remember when Italy won the World Cup [in 2006]. The players, the coach [Marcello Lippi] with huge experience. A big career before coaching the national team.”
— Italy (@azzurri) March 19, 2018
“I hope for Italy, for the country, for football, Conte comes back,” ex-AC Milan, Juventus and West Ham midfielder Nocerino, who played for Orlando City in MLS last season, continued.
“Or Mancini, he has great international experience. When he coached Inter, he won plenty. He has the attitude to coach at international level. Even Ancelotti.
“I hope it is one of those three coaches because they have plenty of experience. I hope Italy regain credibility again. Football in Italy is very important, like a religion.
“The World Cup without Italy is not a World Cup for me.”
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