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Coach defends choice of penalty takers

Donadoni, who missed a penalty in Italy’s World Cup semi-final defeat by Argentina in 1990, said the duo put their hands up and others did not.

sports Updated: Jun 23, 2008 20:06 IST

Italy coach Roberto Donadoni said he had little choice but to let Daniele De Rossi and Antonio Di Natale take and miss penalties in the Euro 2008 quarterfinal defeat by Spain on Sunday.

Midfielder De Rossi had a slight niggle while Di Natale was booed by the Spanish fans as he took the kick after infuriating them during the match with some gamesmanship.

Donadoni, who missed a penalty in Italy’s World Cup semi-final defeat by Argentina in 1990, said the duo put their hands up and others did not.

“We made the decision simply because you have to feel you are ready to take a penalty,” Donadoni told a news conference.

“I don’t decide the penalty takers, I don’t oblige them to take them. We decide together when we know how they are feeling.

“All I can say is that in general in my professional career I haven’t been lucky with penalties.”
Donadoni had wanted to put substitute striker Alessandro Del Piero earlier in extra time but said De Rossi’s knock changed his plans.

“I would have liked to have sent on Del Piero before but we had a problem with De Rossi as he had a pain in his leg and I couldn’t risk it,” he said.

Di Natale saw his penalty saved by Iker Casillas at the Spanish end of the ground with whistles ringing in his ears after he had rolled back onto the field when injured during extra time.

Italian media have criticised Donadoni’s tactics throughout the tournament and his position is now under threat with the soccer federation saying they will conduct a review.

Future to be discussed soon
Donadoni’s position as Italy coach will be discussed in the coming days, Italian soccer federation chief Giancarlo Abete said.

Donadoni, who took over from Marcello Lippi after the 2006 World Cup triumph, signed a two-year contract extension just before the tournament but an escape clause allows the coach or the federation to terminate the deal now.

“After the game, not right after the game, we will assess the Euro campaign and decide what will happen,” Abete told a news

“Although we have lost we have held the name of Italian football high. I can say that in the next few days we are going to meet and talk about it.

“We are aware that our overall capacity and skills have certainly not reached the level expected.”

Donadoni showed no signs of wanting to quit and said he was happy with his players.

“You know the structure of my contract. I’m relaxed about it. What the federation decides is fine by me. I can’t give you answers on things I can’t control,” he said.

“I am proud of my team, proud of the football they have been able to produce. There was no more energy left in any of them.”