Italy may have been frustrated by Paraguay in their World Cup opener, but coach Marcello Lippi insists his team did enough to prove they have got their act together after an unconvincing lead-up.
The four-time champions went into the first match of their title defence in Cape Town on Monday evening under the cosh and with a point to prove.
Lippi said they did just that, despite a 1-1 draw.
“The important thing is this was not a decisive game. What is important is that people now realise we are here and have got our act together,” he said.
The Azzuri are often slow starters at big tournaments and the coach was keen to point out that the team will grow as the World Cup progresses. “I saw the team grow out there. It is just too bad that we didn’t win because we deserved to win,” he said. “Everyone played well, some better than others. I think we had good teamwork.”
On a cold and wet night, the South Americans stunned the Italians by taking lead in the 39th minute when Antolin Alcaraz outjumped Fabio Cannavaro and Daniele De Rossi to head home a cross.
De Rossi redeemed himself by grabbing the equaliser early in the second half, making the most of goalkeeper Justo Villar's failure to clear a corner to put the Italians back into the game.
While less than convincing in the first half-half, Italy turned up the heat after their goal. “We have to become more brilliant in our attack, although you have to bear in mind that although the turf was really beautiful to look at, it was very slippery.”