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Sep 5, 2005

Italy coach Lippi blows his top as pressure mounts

ROME, Sept 5 (Reuters) - Italy national team coach Marcello Lippi let his usually elegant style slip when he swore at a television cameraman following his side's 1-1 draw in a World Cup qualifier against Scotland at the weekend.

Having calmly fended off criticism of his team selection in a post-match press conference on Sunday morning, Lippi turned nasty when he spotted a cameraman filming him in a corridor at the Glasgow Hilton.

'You are a dickhead. You can't film me without asking first,' Lippi swore at the cameraman, who was working for Italian state broadcaster RAI.

'If you like, we can go into the press room and you can film all you want, but you can't hide away like that.'

Lippi later apologised, but his outburst revealed the pressure that is growing on the 57-year-old coach to turn Italy's fortunes around after disappointing exits in their last two major international competitions at the 2002 World Cup and the 2004 European championships.

Since taking over from Giovanni Trapattoni last July, Lippi has led Italy to the brink of World Cup qualification.

Italy lead Group Five with 14 points from seven matches, two ahead of second-placed Norway.

They also have a relatively straightforward run-in, with Wednesday's away fixture against Belarus followed by home games against Slovenia and Moldova.

Shortly before playing the Scots, Italy team captain Fabio Cannavaro said his side had what it took to reach the World Cup finals.

That confidence looked ill-founded when Italy fell behind to an early goal by striker Kenny Miller and then had to battle until 15 minutes from the end before Fabio Grosso's equaliser saved them from defeat.

Lippi tried to make light of the criticism surrounding his team. 'I will be worried the day you (journalists) and I think in the same way,' he joked immediately after the game.

'We allowed ourselves to be caught out by the early goal and then turned in on ourselves, but I thought we played a great second half.'

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