Thursday November 22 2012
Mazzarri: 'Pitch was shocking'

Walter Mazzarri hailed Napoli for progressing to the Europa League knockouts despite playing on a dismal pitch against AIK.

The stadium in Solna is set to be demolished next week, so the turf was in dire condition for its final match this evening. Edinson Cavani converted a last-minute penalty to secure the 2-1 victory.

“It was a difficult game on a pitch that made it hard to play the ball,” said the Coach.

“The lads showed great character to get through to the next round. We played much better in the second half and found more space, whereas in the first we tried the long ball game because close passing was impossible on that turf.”

Mazzarri once again defended his squad rotation in Sweden.

“The Europa League does sap energy from a team and thank goodness our game with Cagliari is on Monday. Imagine if we’d had to play on Sunday after this.

“The journeys are also a problem and people underestimate how much it takes out of the players. Don’t forget, though, we have seven more points in Serie A than at this stage last season. No more idle chatter or controversy – the facts speak for me.”