The Phuket News

Italy miss out on World Cup again after North Macedonia shock

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REIGNING EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS Italy will miss a second straight World Cup after losing to a dramatic stoppage-time goal against North Macedonia in Palermo last Thursday (Mar 24)

Four-time World Cup winners Italy were stunned in Palermo as Aleksandar Trajkovski – who used to play club football in the Sicilian city – fired past Gianluigi Donnarumma in the second minute of injury time to give North Macedonia an incredible 1-0 victory.

Italy will again be absent from the World Cup in Qatar after also failing to qualify for the 2018 tournament in Russia when they lost in a play-off to Sweden.

That was a traumatic experience for a nation that had previously been to every tournament since 1958, and this failure is all the more remarkable given that they were crowned European champions less than nine months ago.

That success for Roberto Mancini’s side came during a world record 37-game unbeaten run, but four draws in their last five qualifiers last autumn saw them finish second in their group to Switzerlan­d, exposing them to the dangers of the playoffs again.

Elsewhere, Gareth Bale was in inspiratio­nal form as his brace secured a 2-1 win for Wales against Austria in Cardiff.

Wales, bidding to qualify for their first World Cup since 1958, will be at home in the playoff final but must wait until at least June for that, with the ongoing war in Ukraine meaning their tie away to Scotland remains on hold for now.

It was unbridled joy in Canada after they qualified for the World Cup for the first time in 36 years on Sunday (Mar 27) with an emphatic 4-0 victory over Jamaica in Toronto.

Canada’s English manager John Herdman said the qualificat­ion was proof that Canada was a “football country”.

“I’m just happy for these lads. When I first took over and I said, ‘We’re going to qualify for the World Cup,’ I don’t think they believed us,” Herdman said.

“I’m happy for them because all of these fans have waited and waited and waited, and hung in with us – and we’re going.”

 ?? Photo: AFP ?? North Macedonia players celebrate as Italy are left dejected.
Photo: AFP North Macedonia players celebrate as Italy are left dejected.
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