Youth coach takes charge of Italy
Italy Under-21 coach Luigi Di Biagio was promoted to take over the senior national team on a caretaker basis yesterday for friendlies against Argentina and England next month.
The Azzurri have been without a coach since November, when Gian Piero Ventura was fired following a play-off loss to Sweden that ruled Italy out of the World Cup for the first time in six decades.
"Di Biagio's first job is to restore enthusiasm and dedication," said Roberto Fabbricini, who was appointed last week as the Italian football federation's emergency commissioner.
"We're confident he'll be up to the job."
Italy play Argentina in Manchester, England, on March 23, then England in London four days later.
The Azzurri's next competitive fixture isn't until September 7 against Poland in the inaugural UEFA Nations League.
The 46-year-old Di Biagio played for Italy as a midfielder at the 1998 and 2002 World cups.
"It's a big opportunity," Di Biagio said. "I can't wait to start. We've got two big, difficult matches.
"Fortunately, I know well 80 per cent of the kids who are part of the national team, and I even had the chance to play with some of them."
Roberto Mancini, Carlo Ancelotti and former Italy coach Antonio Conte are among those being considered for the full-time job.
Last week, Fabbricini mentioned Mancini as a candidate.
Yesterday, he also mentioned current Nantes manager Claudio Ranieri as a possibility.