News Credit: Free Malaysia Today
NAPLES: Gareth Southgate has challenged his England players to shake off the disappointment of losing in the World Cup quarterfinals by claiming a rare victory away to Italy on Thursday.
Southgate’s side’s first game since bowing out to France in Qatar is a clash with the European champions in Naples as the two heavyweights begin their Euro 2024 qualifiers.
England have not beaten Italy on Italian soil since 1961 and their last win of any kind against the Azzurri was in a friendly played in Switzerland 11 years ago.
“In a nutshell it is the type of game we have to start winning. We have over a period but need to do it consistently,” Southgate said on the eve of the clash.
“We haven’t won here since 1961 and that is another piece of history we have to break down and this team has broken them down in the past.”
Southgate considered quitting after the defeat by France but opted to continue with a squad regarded as one of the best England have boasted for decades.
He said the Euro 2024 qualifiers represented a fresh start.
“What we have done in the past is irrelevant as we have to have humility and to start again,” Southgate, whose side lost to Italy in the Euro 2020 final, said.
“It is a great fixture to get that under way.”
It could prove to be an historic night for captain Harry Kane who is tied on 53 goals with Wayne Rooney as England’s men’s record scorer. He could have already held the record had he not missed a penalty in the defeat by France.
“I know he will have added motivation tomorrow night to come back and show everyone what he is about again in an England shirt,” Southgate said.
Italy, who failed to qualify for the World Cup, will remember the late Gianluca Vialli on Thursday with a special message on their shirts.
Vialli, who was part of Roberto Mancicni’s coaching staff, died aged 58 in January from cancer.
“It will be very emotional,” Mancini said. “It’s the first time we have played a game since Luca’s passing. We were very fortunate enough to have him as a team mate and a player.
“He is immortal and people like that will always be near to us.”
England will be without the in-form Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford who was withdrawn from the squad because of an injury.