Italian football fans from around the world are at a loss for words. Even its manager Roberto Mancini is left in shock after Italy’s stunned 1-0 defeat to North Macedonia. The loss leaves Italy out of the World Cup for the second straight time.
Aleksander Trajkovski hit the only goal of the game, sealing the deal for North Macedonia while also causing Italy’s first defeat in 60 home World Cup qualifiers. The shock stands as North Macedonia is ranked 60 places below the four-time World Cup champions Italy, in FIFA. Now, North Macedonia is slated to face off against Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal in the playoff final next week, with a place in Qatar on the line. Mancini spoke to reporters post-match and said,
“It’s hard to say something right now, I don’t know what to say.”
The shock was felt all through Italy and Mancini seems to take full responsibility for the loss stating, “I am the coach, I am the first responsible, the boys are not. They have a great future, they are strong players for the future of the national team. We did not deserve this defeat.” Italy’s captain Giorgio Chiellini said, “At the moment it’s difficult to talk about it, it will remain a great hole. I hope that the coach will stay because he is essential for this team. Now we have to return to winning, go to the Euros and in four years time return to this blessed World Cup.”
In other sports news, world No. 1 tennis player Ashleigh Barty has announced her retirement at age 25.