Zola: Cesare Prandelli is the right man to lead Italy
Former Italy international Gianfranco Zola has given his backing to new coach Cesare Prandelli, despite a less than convincing start to his reign in charge - coming from behind to beat Estonia 2-1.
Prandelli replaced Marcello Lippi as the nation's new head coach after their dismal efforts at the 2010 World Cup where they finished bottom of a group containing New Zealand, Paraguay and Slovakia. But, even after a slow start, Zola believes that Italy have got the right man.
"It will not be an easy group when you consider the situation in Italy, but I have faith because we have a coach who has always had good experiences in his previous jobs," Zola told the UEFA website. "He works very well with young players and that gives us the chance to build something new with a different, fresh mentality. I hope with my whole heart that our football becomes successful again.
"He is very good at working with players, whether they are young and new or players with a certain experience and personality. That is fundamental. At the moment the Italy team needs a leader, one who shows the way, mixed with young players who can inspire and freshen up the national team.
"I find it very important to focus on the sporting and football issues before any others. I hope Prandelli will take the right decisions. Brave decisions are needed to improve the situation."
Italian Football Federation president Giancarlo Abete has urged the media and fans to be patient with Prandelli.
"We are all trying to bounce back together from the big disappointment of the World Cup in South Africa,'' said Abete to Radio RAI. "This is a different national team and we have to give Prandelli time to work in peace with the youngsters.
"The important thing is that everyone works for the team. We knew even before the World Cup that we needed an almost complete renovation (of the team) and we know how difficult it is to get results when you make changes.
"We have to be close to the national team. I think the players did well in Estonia.''
Meanwhile, Antonio Cassano says he is willing to admit has learned from the mistakes he made when he was his own worst enemy. The Sampdoria striker has come out of the international wilderness and immediately become a match-winner for his side.
''I am taking back the time lost, my adventure with the Azzurri colours was a disaster but it was my fault,'' he said.
The 28-year-old Cassano had to sit and watch as Marcello Lippi's Italian squad failed to advance beyond the group stage in the World Cup in South Africa.
When asked about Lippi's resistance to calls in the media to included Cassano in his team, despite the player's good form and behaviour in Serie A, he said: ''Lippi? I don't look at the past but at the present. I don't want to create controversies.
''I have a fantastic rapport with Prandelli, who has made me feel important as a person and I will always be thankful to him.
''I have had incredible disasters in previous years at a great cost. But (his wife) Carolina has changed my life.''