In a major turnaround in FIFA tournament, four-time champions Italy failed to reach the World Cup for the first time since 1958 after a play-off defeat against Sweden. Italy were held to a 0-0 draw. The result means the Azzurri will not be present in the competition for only the third time in their history, having declined to play at the inaugural tournament in 1930.
A tearful Gianluigi Buffon said he was “sorry for all of Italian football” as he led a wave of international retirements after a World Cup play-off defeat by Sweden.
Buffon, 39, said,
It’s a shame my last official game coincided with the failure to qualify for the World Cup. Blame is shared equally among everyone. There can’t be scapegoats.
Buffon’s Juventus team-mate Andrea Barzagli and Roma midfielder Daniele de Rossi ended their national team careers while Giorgio Chiellini is also expected to step away from the national team.
Goalkeeper Buffon made 175 appearances for his country in a 20-year-long career – lifting the World Cup in 2006 – and believes the future is still bright for the four-time world champions.
An emotional Buffon further said,
There is certainly a future for Italian football because we have pride, ability, determination and after bad tumbles, we always find a way to get back on our feet.
Italy’s manager Giampiero Ventura did not speak on national television after the defeat but arrived at a news conference 90 minutes after full time.
Here’s how Italy fans reacted on Twitter:
— luis vargas (@LuisMiguelon) November 13, 2017
— Cristian Valadez (@Elcristian016) November 13, 2017
#Italy didn’t enter the 1st #WorldCup in 1930. They then qualified for every edition except 1958, until now. Champions ____ in 1934, 1938, 1982, 2006. Gian Piero Ventura and those who appointed him deserve significant blame. Colossal failure. #Azzurri #ItalySweden #WCQ __ pic.twitter.com/5S8SLwS11J
— Jason Foster (@JogaBonitoUSA) November 13, 2017
— Khaled Yousry (@KhaledYousry) November 13, 2017
— Nowshad Khaleque (@NowshadKhaleque) November 13, 2017
The 2018 FIFA World Cup is scheduled to take place in Russia from 14 June to 15 July 2018. A total of 64 games will be played to decide the winner.
(WITH IANS INPUTS)