Roberto Mancini is optimistic that Italy can still win the 2022 World Cup despite their failure to win their qualifying group.
The Azzurri missed the chance to qualify automatically for the 2022 World Cup after playing out a goalless draw away against Northern Ireland on Monday night.
Mancini’s men needed to at least match Switzerland’s result against Bulgaria to finish top of Group C, however the Azzurri were frustrated in Belfast, while the Swiss cruised to a 4-0 victory on home soil.
Italy will now have to win the play-offs to qualify for the tournament in Qatar next year, but Mancini believes they still stand the chance to qualify.
“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, referring to the play-offs.
“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.
“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,” he added.
Italy will enter the European World Cup play-offs in late-March to determine their fate.
The competition will feature 10 group runners up joined by the two best group winners from the 2020-21 UEFA Nations League that have neither qualified already nor entered the playoffs already as group runners up.