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Italy v North Macedonia

Mancini unsure on future after Italy lose to North Macedonia and miss out on 2022 World Cup

02:25 GMT+3 25/03/2022
Mancini Italia Macedonia 2022
The Azzurri boss also defended his players after the surprise loss, insisting they were the victims of "total bad luck"

Roberto Mancini has admitted to being unsure about his future as Italy head coach after seeing his side lose to North Macedonia and miss out on a place at the 2022 World Cup.

Euro 2020 champions Italy came into the qualification play-off semi-final clash at the Stadio Renzo Barbera as overwhelming favourites, but ended up being the victims of a huge upset that will live long in the memory.

Aleksandar Trajkovski fired home a stunning stoppage-time winner for North Macedonia, who had barely had a sight of goal over the previous 90 minutes, leaving Mancini with his head in his hands on the touchline.

What's been said?

Mancini signed a new-four year contract extension with Italy following their triumph at last summer's European Championship, but he is no longer certain about his position at the helm.

The 57-year-old says a period of reflection will first be necessary before any decision on his future in the dugout is made.

"We will see. Now I feel too disappointed to speak about my future, we will see," Mancini told Rai Sport post-match.

“I’m sure this team has a great future. I’m supporting these players now more than ever."

Italy captain Giorgio Chiellini added: "We're hugely disappointed. We played well but a goal was missing. I'm proud of my teammates. We're devastated. I hope that Mancini will remain."

Chiellini was also asked if he now plans to retire from international football, to which he replied: "This isn't the right time to say if I've played my last game for Italy."

Mancini bemoans 'total bad luck'

Italy dominated possession against North Macedonia and recorded 32 shots over the course of the game to their opponents' four, but only managed to hit the target five times.

The hosts squandered a number of clear openings before Trajkovski landed a sucker-punch blow, but Mancini has jumped to the defence of his players.

The Azzurri boss still believes in his squad and doesn't think that the final result was a true reflection of their performance.

"I think that if last July was the best thing I had professionally, I think this is the biggest disappointment," said Mancini. "You can't say anything. This is football. Sometimes incredible things happen and tonight it's It happened.

"Maybe we shouldn't have been there, but we did everything to try to win. It is difficult to comment on this match, with a goal that arrived after the 90th minute without conceding anything else.

"This is a group with great players and I'm sorry because we didn't deserve it. Now it is too early to talk about the future, we still have to digest this defeat.

"I think that the victory of the European Championship was deserved, then luck turned into total bad luck.

"On a human level, I can say that I love the boys more tonight than in July. It is a time of great difficulty and therefore my affection is even greater."

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