Wednesday November 18 2020
Mancini: 'Young Italians need a chance'

Roberto Mancini celebrates Italy’s qualification for the Nations League Final Four and insists ‘we have very talented young players, we just have to give them the opportunity.’

The coach spoke to RAI Sport via webcam after the 2-0 victory in Bosnia-Herzegovina, where his assistant manager Alberico Evani was on the bench for the third game in a row.

“I feel fine,” assured Mancini from his home, where he is self-isolating after testing positive for COVID-19.

“It’s going to be a wonderful tournament, it comes after the Euros, so our second qualification for a major competition and we are happy.

“I want to thank all the lads who contributed to reaching this point over the last two years, those who played tonight and those who were at home.”

There were over 20 players who pulled out of the Italy squad for these three games against Estonia, Poland and Bosnia due to injuries and COVID-19, including Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini and Marco Verratti, but they were not missed.

“I think we have some very talented young players in Italy. We just have to give them the opportunity to play. There might be initial difficulties, but if they have the talent, it’ll emerge in six or seven months.

“The Italy youth teams are fundamental for us and have helped prepare players for the step up.”

Inter defender Bastoni had only been drafted in for the friendly with Estonia, which was his senior Italy debut, but ended up starting against Poland and Bosnia too.

“Bastoni had three games in 10 days, getting better every time. He is very young, has a huge margin for improvement, so really could become the next Bonucci or Chiellini.

“He’s not the only one, as there are other very talented defenders in the Under-21 and Under-20 squads, they just need to be given the chance to play.”

The official Italy Twitter account also released an amusing clip of Mancini sending a Facetime message to his players in Sarajevo after the 2-0 win in Bosnia.