February 7, 2024


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Prior playoff failure on minds as Italy hunts World Cup spot

With Italy’s worst soccer moment on many people’s minds, coach Roberto Mancini is not thinking about the unthinkable but about winning the World Cup in Qatar. Italy failed to qualify for the 2018 tournament. Missing two straight World Cups would be an unprecedented low point for the four-time champion, especially less than a year after winning the European Championship.

And, just like for the 2018 World Cup, it has to endure the playoffs. Italy faces North Macedonia in Palermo, Sicily, on Thursday, with the winner playing either Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal or Turkey for a spot at the tournament in Qatar later this year.

“Our aim is to win the World Cup. In order to do so, we need to win these two games,” Mancini said. “It’s only others thinking about scenario B, the negative outcome. I’m thinking only of scenario A. And let’s hope it’s A.