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Page last updated at 13:36 GMT, Friday, 25 June 2010 14:36 UK

World Cup 2010: Italy lack top talent - Fabio Cannavaro

Fabio Cannavaro
Cannavaro is Italy's most capped international

Fabio Cannavaro has called on Italy to put their resources in developing younger players as the defender prepares for international retirement.

Italy were knocked out of the World Cup after a 3-2 defeat by Slovakia meant they finished bottom of their group.

With nine players in the team over 30, the 36-year-old defender said: "We've got to invest in younger players.

"We've got to learn from this loss otherwise it's going to take another 27 years before we win the World Cup."

Cannavaro, the Azzurri's star player and captain when they won the competition in Germany four years ago, seemed off the pace as Italy struggled in South Africa , drawing against Paraguay and New Zealand before losing to Slovakia.

The Juventus centre-back admitted he cried after the defending champions were eliminated, but did not believe the woeful performance in Africa would erase the memory of their 2006 triumph.

"This is a black page in our history, but it can't erase what we achieved in 2006," said Cannavaro, Italy's most capped player with 136 appearances for his country.

Vincenzo Iaquinta

Highlights - Slovakia 3-2 Italy

"I'm not ashamed to say that I cried last night after 14 years in Azzurro. With four stars on your chest, you feel obligated to win. It's only natural to feel pressure but we were too afraid. I saw it in the faces of my team-mates."

Cannavaro will pass the captain's armband to goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon before heading for semi-retirement at Dubai's Al-Ahli.

Worryingly for the Azzurri, however, is Cannavaro's belief that the four-time World Cup winners did not have the players of the calibre of the 2006 generation.

"I think there are not many changes we can make. At the moment, Italy is not producing players like in my generation when we had great players," he said.

"It's not just the national team, it's the clubs. We have good players but not top drawer. I've been saying for a while that the system has to change."

It is not what former Fiorentina boss Cesare Prandelli will want to hear as he prepares to take over from departing coach Marcello Lippi on 1 July.

But Italian football federation president Giancarlo Abete agreed with Cannavaro and believed a "structural crisis" had led to Italy's poor performance.

"Lots of Italian players are not at an international level," he said, bemoaning the fact only 42 percent of Serie A players are Italian.


"We have to be realists. These are the facts. We need to reflect on the structural crisis of Italian football.

"We've got to develop a strategy to start over. This problem didn't begin yesterday. It's been going on for a while. We have the duty to start over.

"The European Union and Uefa have also got to realize what the problem is, because if we can't develop this sport better, the risks won't affect just one or two federations but all the European teams.

"We've already seen how much the European powers have struggled at this World Cup and how well the South Americans are doing.

"Prandelli was chosen for his skills at working with younger players and it is noteworthy that we're signing him to a four-year deal. We're looking ahead long term."

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see also
Team tracker and Predictor
27 May 10 |  World Cup 2010
World Cup venues
05 Dec 09 |  World Cup 2010
Wednesday's World Cup 2010 round-up
02 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
Blame me for Italy exit - Lippi
24 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
Italy lack edge, says sorry Lippi
20 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
Highlights: Italy 1-1 New Zealand
20 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
Team guide: Italy
31 May 10 |  World Cup 2010
Cannavaro 'deserves' Ballon d'Or
27 Nov 06 |  Europe
Zidane off as Italy win World Cup
09 Jul 06 |  World Cup 2006

related bbc links:

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The Independent Cannavaro fears for Italy's future - 37 hrs ago
Calcutta Telegraph Black page in history - 37 hrs ago
TSN Italy's Cannavaro retires from national team after early exit - 44 hrs ago
Chicago Tribune Italian FA president calls for serious analysis after defending champ's World Cup flop - 44 hrs ago Cannavaro retires in wake of WC humiliation - 44 hrs ago


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