Wednesday February 19 2014
Conte ‘to concentrate on football’

Juventus Coach Antonio Conte has refused to discuss his long term future in Italy after his public row with Fabio Capello.

The tactician was asked whether his recent exchanges with compatriot Capello and the subsequent criticism he has received had made him want to seek a future outside the peninsula.

“Seriously, I think it’s better to concentrate on the football being played on the pitch as we are approaching a very tough period in the season,” Conte said to the journalists gathered at his pre-match Press conference ahead of the Old Lady’s Europa League tie with Trabzonspor.

“There are less and less games to play in the league and we are in the knockout rounds of the Europa League, so if we want to move forward we must only concentrate on the football.”

The 44-year-old added that he was taking the Europa League very seriously and explained that he would need a contribution from his entire squad over the coming months.

“I’ve noticed that in the next 52 days, including the national team’s match, the players will have to play 16 games.

“This shows that we all need to be ready, the entire squad needs to be available because I really will need all of them.

“There is the league and also the Europa League, which we want to honour to the best of our ability.

“We will therefore be looking to approach every match in the best way possible and rotate the squad where we feel necessary.

“The target is always to do well game by game.

“The Europa League is a very prestigious tournament but we now need to be strong, not just physically but also mentally.

“I have great faith in all the squad.

“Winning the Europa League in our second season back in Europe would be an extraordinary achievement.

“We know that we underachieved in the Champions League this season and it was our fault.

“But now we have the Europa League and we want to progress.

“I really don’t know if Juventus are favourites to win it or not, if a lot of people think that then I thank them!

“But we know that even for the favourites, the journey from here to winning the final is a very, very long one.”

Finally, Conte commented on his opponents.

“We are playing a team who finished top of a group including Lazio, we know they are very good going forward,” he said.

“It’s also a very experienced squad, with players like Zokora, Bosingwa and Malouda.

“We are only thinking about Thursday’s game and doing well in it.”