Italy exit after losing to debutants Slovakia


Father Time finally caught up with poor old Italy on Thursday when they were deposed as world champions after suffering a dramatic and shocking 3-2 defeat at the hands of World Cup debutants Slovakia.

An ageing squad, debilitating injuries and the admission after the match from coach Marcello Lippi that he had not trained his men well enough for the World Cup all contributed to their woeful performance in their three Group F matches.

Their 1-1 draws against Paraguay and New Zealand and Thursday's defeat left Italy at the bottom of the section.

Photographs: Reuters

Image: Italy's Daniele De Rossi (left) and Vincenzo Iaquinta react after losing to Slovakia

Cannavaro lost his positional sense time and again

Although few people expected Italy to retain the crown they won four years ago, most observers thought they would at least reach the knockout stages.

However, their inability to overcome even a relatively modest team like Slovakia illustrates just how far Italy have fallen since winning the World Cup four years ago.

The performance of 36-year-old centre back and captain Fabio Cannavaro, Italy's record caps holder, summed that up perfectly.

The world player of the year in 2006, he looked a completely different person in Ellis Park where he was again beaten for pace and lost his positional sense time and again.

Image: Fabio Cannavaro