Gigi Buffon saved a penalty in Malta on his 126th Italy cap, but is confident he can reach 150 and criticised the Azzurri for their attitude.
This evening he matched Paolo Maldini’s tally of 126 appearances for the Nazionale and is now second in the all-time charts behind Fabio Cannavaro on 136.
“I hope my natural course will be to reach that level. If I keep physically and psychologically sound, then I’d hope to get even more than that,” smiled Buffon after a 2-0 win over Malta.
“I say that for a sportsman after the age of 30 you become like a dog – each year is worth seven! I talk fully aware of what I am and what I can do. Around two or three years ago I probably wouldn’t have said this, but now I can say it with conviction.
“We met in Milan when we played Denmark and Maldini said I’ll reach about 150. It was optimistic, but I don’t know, if God wills and I keep in good shape, then it is an objective I could reach.”
Italy beat Malta 2-0 in tonight’s World Cup qualifier, but Buffon had to save a first half penalty and was irritated with the attitude of his teammates.
“There were some difficult playing conditions, as it was very windy and the pitch extremely wet. Plus if there isn’t 100 per cent focus and concentration, then you are going to run into trouble.
“I wasn’t the only one who got angry, as we all did. These situations happen when there are games that aren’t high profile. It is a characteristic the Nazionale has had for years, as we always seem to leave it open for ourselves, our fans and our opponents.
“A moment before he kicked the penalty, I had decided to go left, but then decided to stay where I was and try to figure it out at the last second. I was fortunate, as it was fairly central.
“The penalty was an incident, but added to the other five or six chances showed it was not a walk in the park. Those no longer exist in football, especially away from home.
“Cesare Prandelli was angry at half-time, but he had every right to be. For many years we keep saying we need to keep the concentration up and yet something is missing and we risk compromising qualification.
“We are waiting for some more difficult tests and to take part in another big competition, then we’ll see what level we are at. In our last major tournament we showed good things, so we now just need to confirm and improve upon that.”
The starting XI tonight was made up entirely of players from Juventus and Milan.
“At this stage it is a logical choice, as Juventus are top of the table and three quarters of the side are Italian. Milan have the same basic set-up.”
Mario Balotelli scored both goals and Buffon gave the youngster some advice.
“He behaves very well on the field, but what really interests me is that he’s ready to work hard and sacrifice himself when playing. He has always done that. The difference now is that he is playing consistently, which he had never really done in his career.”
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