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Italy fails to clinch World Cup play-off spot

08 October 2017, 01:14 | Myrtle Vega

Italy's outfield players will don the home kit for the first time against Albania on October 9

Italy's outfield players will don the home kit for the first time against Albania on October 9

Italy's hopes of qualifying directly for next year's World Cup ended on Friday as they produced another lacklustre performance and were jeered off the field after a 1-1 draw at home to eliminated Macedonia.

Spain secured their progression to Russian Federation as Group G winners on Friday, meaning Italy will have to settle for a place in the second round of qualifying, with Ireland similarly aiming for a play-off position as one of the best runners-ups in European qualification.

Spain qualified first in Group G by thrashing Albania 3-0. The fans might well be disappointed but we must have their support at a time of need like this.

"The second half was disappointing", Italy coach Gian Piero Ventura said. I had moments that were positive and negative, like all coaches.

"There is still a game to play, then we'll tackle the playoffs".

Ventura has demanded "desire and enthusiasm" from his side ahead of the double header to put them in the healthiest position possible for the play-offs, which take place in November.

Giorgio Chiellini gave them the lead just before the break, but a late equaliser saw Italy slump to a poor result and Ventura was alarmed by their performance in the second period, even if he stressed that Macedonia are better than people give them credit for.

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"I think a lack of fitness levels made a big difference and when that drops, the sharpness goes, so we could not develop anything more".

"I think the whistles were an expression of disapproval by the crowd and they were in response to how we got on".

Italy failed to click after halftime and were given a first warning when Gianluigi Buffon had to smother a header from Ilija Nestorovski.

Macedonia will likely sit deep and look to soak up Italian pressure, but the hosts should have more than enough to breach any rearguard action.

Failing to reach the World Cup for the first time since 1958 would certainly bring a swift end to his tenure.

Gli Azzurri pretty much has at least a spot in the playoffs secured but will be looking for that direct spot for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.



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