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Soccer: Prandelli set for enhanced powers after renewal

Coach to stay in charge of Italy until 2016

25 March, 18:41
Soccer: Prandelli set for enhanced powers after renewal

(By Paul Virgo) (ANSA) - Rome, March 25 - Cesare Prandelli is set to have enhanced powers as Azzurri coach after reaching a deal with the Italian Soccer Federation (FIGC) to extend his contract by two years until 2016.

Until recently former Parma and Fiorentina boss Prandelli had been expected to step down after this year's World Cup in Brazil, having frequently said he missed club soccer.

But the FIGC persuaded him to stay on for Italy's qualifying campaign for Euro 2016 in France by beefing up his role, including greater influence over the youth national teams, according to media reports.

The federation said it has reached the outline of an agreement, which will be "perfected in the coming weeks".

It added that it would feature a project for the coach's role to "better harmonize the schedule of competitive and friendly matches and the general preparation of the team, via increasingly close cooperation with the Serie A league and the Serie B league". Prandelli has often complained that the Italian soccer league and top-flight clubs do not do enough to support the national team, saying no one cares about the Azzurri between major tournaments.

He was especially critical after failing to get the clubs to release players for a series of one-day training meetings in the run-up to Euro 2012.

But he has managed to get them to let players in the running for a place in his squad take part in fitness tests in April. "I have a great sense of satisfaction. I'm proud that the Italian soccer federation proposed a two-year renewal, regardless of how we do at World Cup," said Prandelli.

The 56-year-old took over a national team in disarray after Italy's embarrassing group-stage exit at the 2010 World Cup.

He rejuvenated the side and managed to get them playing an attractive offensive style, even though the current squad has fewer stars than teams of the past.

They finished runners-up at Euro 2012, came third at the 2013 Confederations Cup and qualified for this summer's World Cup with two matches to spare.

Prandelli said his side are aiming for "the maximum" in Brazil.

Italy are in a tough group that includes England, Costa Rica and Uruguay.

The Azzurri will start their campaign against England on June 14 in Manaus, a city in the middle of the Amazon rain forest, before travelling around 1,450 km to the Atlantic coast for their other two group games, against Costa Rica and Uruguay, in Recife and Natal respectively.

Prandelli will announce his preliminary squad of 30 players for the World Cup on May 13 before trimming it down to a definitive 23-man roster on June.

Italy have two friendlies scheduled in the run-up to the World Cup, against Ireland in London on May 31 and against Luxembourg in Verona on June 4.