Cannavaro warns Italy cannot miss another World Cup

Photo by Salvatore Laporta/KONTROLAB/LightRocket via Getty Images

Mancini optimistic ahead of World Cup play-offs

The reigning European champion could not top its FIFA World Cup qualifying group, leaving it having to beat North Macedonia in the playoffs semi-final on Friday to keep its hopes alive.

Italy would then have to bypass either Turkey or Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal in the final to secure its spot at Qatar 2022, which means one of the previous two European Championship winners will not be present at the FIFA World Cup.

Robert Mancini's reinvigorated Azzurri responded to failure to qualify for FIFA's showpiece event in 2018 by lifting the delayed Euro 2020, and Cannavaro explained that it is vitally that they find a way through this year.

"Between us and qualifying for Qatar there could be Portugal, but also Turkey would not be a walk in the park," Cannavaro, who won the World Cup in 2006 said.

"And even before that in Palermo, we must beat [North] Macedonia. We threw away a chance in Rome against Switzerland [in the group stages], there is no way we can not qualify for the World Cup for eight years.

"It would be a disaster for everyone. Mancini will find the resources to be able to qualify."

While Italy push for World Cup qualification, Russia will not be featuring in Qatar after FIFA excluded it due to the ongoing invasion of Ukraine, a decision Cannavaro supports.

When asked if FIFA had made the right call, he said: "Yes. Football is not a world apart. It had to give a signal and it did."