Roberto Mancini admits Italy ‘should’ve sealed the group long before it came to this’ after their draw in Northern Ireland, but after analysing his regrets, insists they will ‘book our place in the World Cup in March and hopefully win the tournament too.’
The Azzurri won UEFA EURO 2020 only four months ago, but they need play-offs to reach the 2022 World Cup in Qatar after a 0-0 draw in Northern Ireland.
Switzerland thrashed Bulgaria 4-0 to top the group, as ultimately the two stalemates in the head-to-heads proved decisive, with Jorginho failing to convert a penalty in each one.
For the second edition in a row, Italy must go through play-offs before booking their World Cup spot and that will be in March.
“We can’t do anything about it now, we have this game in March and will try to give our best,” Mancini told RAI Sport.
“At the moment, we are struggling to score goals, despite dominating possession and the initiative. Northern Ireland put everyone in defence and we struggle to break sides like that down.
“It’s a pity, because we should’ve sealed the group long before it came to this. We just need to rediscover what characterised us up until today. We had two missed penalties in the decisive matches, so that shows we had the chances to win.”
Along with the two draws against Switzerland, which saw Jorginho fail to convert a penalty in each match, Italy also lost out because of their draw with Bulgaria.
“The game with Bulgaria was the first in September after just two Serie A rounds, so those fixtures are always the toughest, as we are rusty. We still had the chances to win both games with Switzerland,” argued Mancini.
“Now we prepare for March and we go into the play-offs confident. We’ll book our place in the World Cup in March and hopefully win the tournament too.”