PRETORIA, June 22, 2009 – Italy coach Marcello Lippi insists he won't be ringing the changes despite the world champions crashing out of the Confederations Cup.
The Italians had a tournament to forget, beating the United States 3-1 but then being shocked by Egypt 1-0 before Brazil hammered the final nail in their coffin with a comprehensive 3-0 thrashing on Sunday.
With the United States beating Egypt 3-0, Italy missed out on making the semi-finals on goal difference and head home as underachievers, unable to lay down a marker ahead of their World Cup title defence back here next year.
Lippi has been criticised at home for persisting with his "old men" rather than handing a chance to the plethora of young talent he has on hand, but he defended his tactics.
"You speak so much about young people – what young people," said the 61-year-old, back in charge since Roberto Donadoni’s departure after Euro 2008.
"You don’t throw youngesters into these matches, you have to put them in gradually.
"We must stay calm, and keep in mind that it is important to have experience in these types of matches.
"We have youngsters but they need to mature. The best players in Italy you have seen right here on the pitch."
Seven of his starting 11 against Brazil were aged 30 or more, with captain Fabio Cannavaro almost 36.
But despite the current squad continuing to offer uninspiring performances, Lippi has no plans for big changes.
"My plan is not going to change, I’m sticking to it," he said.
"I feel a bit sad now, as do the players, because we didn’t play well. But we all know the image of Italy is not that which we showed here."
He blamed the long Serie A season on his team’s failure to shine, despite the same reasoning applying to other sides here like Brazil and Spain who have been in scintillating form.
"Frankly I didn’t think our condition was brilliant when we first showed up. I hoped the physical ability of the players would grow but we going home," he said.
"I’m talking about the circumstances of certain players. Some had injury problems and they were lagging behind, because normally this would not be the performance of this team.
"We’re diasappointed with our performance and we’re very much aware of that. This does not reflect the way we usually perform, we were certainly not at our best in this championship."
Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon said he hoped the young guns, led by the likes of defender Davide Santon, 18, and striker Giuseppe Rossi, 22, make the step up.
"We can only wish and hope that our young players step up in quality in the coming months, in order to give us a hand," he said.
"You must understand though that playing for the Azzurri is not like playing in the league. It takes experience and character to be a success at this level."
Cannavaro, who matched Paulo Maldini’s 126-cap record for Italy on Sunday, said he was disappointed but said they still had a year before the World Cup.
"We are very disappointed to be returning home with just one win and two defeats. This hurts quite a lot," he told Italian television.
"We came here to South Africa to try some new things, and to give players some much needed experience.
"It didn’t work in our favour, but it is just the Confederations Cup. We should not lose sight of our overall objective, which is to qualify for the World Cup."