The Italian National team are set to miss out on the World Cup finals again, after losing 1-0 at home to North Macedonia in their playoff semi-final on Thursday.
An Aleksandar Trajkovski’s last-gasp strike was enough to earn the visitors a famous win over the Italians.
Roberto Mancini’s Italy side had a remarkable 32 efforts at their opponents goal in the match but somehow fell short in their quest to advance.
Italy’s award winning midfielder Jorginho had this to say after the match, “It is a huge disappointment, It hurts, it hurts so much. We have always created and dominated matches but we have not been able to finish teams off. It is not to blame anyone in particular but it is the reality.
I don’t know why we haven’t been able to do this, I am also involved in this, and it hurts me to think about it.”
The result also means that Italy’s last win in a World Cup knockout will remain the 2006 final against France until at least 2026.
This has Prompted the reaction from the football world to the loss as one of utter shock.
Former Leicester City football club star Gary Lineker tweeted:
For Italy to go from being European champions to not even making the final playoff stage is an almighty and devastating fall.
North Macedonia are now set to go on to play Portugal in the playoff final on Tuesday for a place in Qatar, after Portugal secured their place in the final with a reassuring 3-1 win over Turkey.
However, Portugal boss Fernando Santos was quick to reject the suggestion that his side already have one foot in the 2022 World Cup after booking a play-off final clash against North Macedonia, who produced a stunning and upsetting win over Italy.
He had this to say, “we could play North Macedonia or Italy, I always said that. These games are finals. Finals are always complicated. We won the first one and now we have to win the second.
“That’s what we’re going to focus on. This game is over. Now we have to focus on North Macedonia, which will be a difficult game for sure. If they managed to beat Italy that means it’s going to be very difficult.”
The play-off finals have been scheduled to take place on Tuesday, March 29.