Dis­may and dis­be­lief as Italy crash out

New Straits Times - - Sport -

ROME: Italy’s fail­ure to qual­ify for the World Cup for the first time in 60 years was greeted by a mix­ture of dis­be­lief, dis­may and re­signed dis­ap­point­ment by fans across the coun­try.

“It is re­ally very sad be­cause watch­ing the World Cup was some­thing that re­ally brought us to­gether as Ital­ians,” said re­cent grad­u­ate Ste­fa­nia Pusateri, head­ing for the exit.

“But what is sure is that the shock will be even worse for my fa­ther. He is 54 years old and he has never had to go through some­thing like this.”

Sit­ting along­side Pusateri, friend Da­vide Penna con­curred. “I still can’t be­lieve it has hap­pened,” he said. “We have never ex­pe­ri­enced any­thing like this. It’s over.”

Sim­i­lar sen­ti­ments were voiced by fans com­ing out of the San Siro sta­dium in Mi­lan.

“I am dis­ap­pointed with the whole foot­ball sys­tem in Italy,” said Mirko Palmieri. “It is the umpteenth fail­ure of our coun­try. Even here (at the San Siro), we can’t get the job done.”

Italy not be­ing at the World Cup will be a new ex­pe­ri­ence for most of the coun­try’s fans, and few of them are look­ing for­ward to the ex­pe­ri­ence of watch­ing from the side­lines.

“I was born with Italy be­ing a part of the World Cup, and it has al­ways been like that,” one sup­porter told AFP on his way out of the Mi­lan sta­dium.

“To­mor­row I will wake up and my life will go on but this sum­mer I will do some­thing else.”

Back in the Rome bar, the view that Italy de­served to be on the plane to Rus­sia was dis­puted by jour­nal­ism stu­dent Chris­tian Dalenz.

“The re­al­ity is they were not good enough, they haven’t earned the right to be at the World Cup. This is a very weak squad. It just does not have enough world-class play­ers who can make the dif­fer­ence.”

“It is not as if Swe­den are that strong a team,” Fabio Votano, a Ro­man who was only a tod­dler when Italy last missed out on a World Cup fi­nals, had told AFPTV hours be­fore kick-off.

“Not win­ning is com­pletely un­think­able, ba­si­cally some­thing that has never hap­pened be­fore. For Italy, get­ting to the World Cup fi­nals is al­most a duty.”

Rome res­i­dent En­rico Doddi in­sisted Italy’s play­ers were good enough to have over­come Swe­den.

“They’re play­ing mis­er­ably at the mo­ment but Italy still has a good set of play­ers in my opin­ion,” he said. “It is all down to men­tal­ity.

“You can­not have a good World Cup with­out Italy.” AFP

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