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Baggio has his work cut out
by Paul Kennedy, August 2nd, 2010 9:27PM

TAGS:  italy


[ITALY] Former Italian great Roberto Baggio will have a huge job of helping turn around Italian soccer when he takes over as technical director at the Italian federation.

Baggio, Italy's biggest star when it finished third at the World Cup it hosted in 1990 and second at the World Cup four years later in the United States, has stayed out of soccer since retiring in 2004 and only recently entered Italy's coaching school.

"I have a great willingness to undertake the role," said the 43-year-old Baggio on Monday after meeting Italian federation officials to discuss his role.

Italy, the 2006 World Cup champion, was eliminated in the first round of the 2010 World Cup, and its new coach, Cesare Prandelli, has a massive rebuilding job ahead of him.

Most of Italy's big clubs rely heavily on foreign players -- Inter Milan won the 2010 UEFA Champions League with a lineup entirely comprised of foreigners -- meaning few young stars are on the horizon to replace the veterans Marcello Lippi took to South Africa.

Italy's top young talent is 19-year-old forward Mario Balotelli, born in Palermo to Ghanaian immigrants and adopted by an Italian family at the age of 3. Despite all his ability, Lippi didn't take Balotelli to South Africa, considering his reputation for having problems with teammates and coaches too risky.

Many of Prandelli's top candidates were born outside Italy, notably New Jersey product Giuseppe Rossi and Inter's Brazilian midfielder, Thiago Motta.

Italy's first post-World Cup match will take place Tuesday against Ivory Coast in London.

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