Mancini: Italy would have preferred not to face Portugal in the World Cup qualifiers

BERLIN: Italy coach Roberto Mancini has admitted that his team would have preferred to avoid a possible confrontation with Portugal in the European play-offs for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The European play-off draw, which took place on Friday in Zurich, placed the Italian and Portuguese teams, along with the teams of North Macedonia and Turkey, in the third qualifying path, of which one team qualifies for the finals, just like the two other qualification paths. Italy will meet North Macedonia and Portugal will face Turkey in the semi-final of the European play-offs, with the two winners meeting in the final. The Portuguese national team were within minutes of qualifying for the finals via the European qualifiers, but Aleksandar Mitrovic scored a killer goal in the time, which led the Serbian side to a 2-1 win over Portugal and grabbing direct qualification. at the World Cup, while the Portuguese team qualified for the European play-offs. Mancini expressed confidence in his side’s ability to qualify but spoke frankly about the difficulty of the task of winning the potential confrontation with Portugal and depriving star Cristiano Ronaldo of what would be his last chance to participate in the World Cup. “We are always confident and positive,” said Mancini. North Macedonia has a good and qualified group of players and we will have to play a great match. Then we’ll see what happens in final. ”Asked about the possibility of facing Portugal in final, Mancini answered clearly: “We would have liked to have avoided the possibility of facing them, and at the same time Portugal would have been happy to avoid our potential confrontation.” (Dpa)

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