Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Balotelli gets Italy recall ahead of World Cup play-offs



Balotelli gets Italy recall ahead of World Cup play-offs

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Italy forward Mario Balotelli stretches during a training session on June 3, 2018, on the eve of their international friendly football match against The Netherlands. AFP

Balotelli gets Italy recall ahead of World Cup play-offs

Striker Mario Balotelli has been recalled by Italy coach Roberto Mancini more than three years after he last played for the Azzurri for a training camp ahead of 2022 World Cup qualifying play-offs, the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) said on Monday.

The 31-year-old Balotelli was one of several surprise call ups including Brazil-born Joao Pedro, now an Italian citizen, who was recently cleared to play for Italy.

Mancini intends to take advantage of the three-day camp at the national training centre at Coverciano, near Florence, ahead of tricky play-offs in late-March against North Macedonia and, in the case of victory, either Portugal or Turkey.

Balotelli, who made the last of his 36 international appearances in September 2018 and has scored 14 goals for Italy, now plays for newly-promoted Turkish side Adana Demirspor.

Balotelli scored regularly for Nice for two seasons in France prior to a short spell with Marseille before moving swiftly on to Brescia back in Italy and then Monza in Italy’s Serie B.

He previously played for both Milan clubs, winning three league titles with Inter, but disciplinary problems have dogged much of his career – though he starred for Italy in Euro 2012 – that season he also won the Premier League with City.

Cagliari striker Pedro, another former Brazilian, Lazio defender Luiz Felipe, 24, who has also gained Italian nationality, have also been called up.

Brazil-born Atalanta defender Rafael Toloi made his Italy debut last year and was part of the Euro 2020-winning squad.

Five newcomers include goalkeeper Marco Carnesecchi (Cremonese), defender Giorgio Scalvini (Atalanta) and midfielders DavideFrattesi (Sassuolo), NicoloFagioli (Cremonese) and Samuele Ricci (Empoli).

In addition to those absent due to injury – Federico Chiesa, Leonardo Spinazzola, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Leonardo Bonucci, AndreaBelotti – other regulars were not called up, such as Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Marco Verratti and Chelsea’s Jorginho.

The European champions missed out on the 2018 World Cup finals for the first time in 60 years, after being eliminated in a two-leg play-off against Sweden.

MOST VIEWED

  • All Covid restrictions for inbound travellers lifted

    Cambodia has apparently taken the final step towards full reopening of the country without Covid-19 restrictions by removing all requirements for inbound travellers, who until now had to show health certificates indicating that they have tested Covid-19 negative in the past 72 hours as well as

  • Typhoon Noru brings flash floods – 16 dead

    An official warned that that the 16th typhoon of the season, Noru, had brought heavy rains to areas the Mekong River and flooded thousands of homes in the provinces bordering Thailand. As of September 27, the death toll from the flooding had risen to 16. National Committee

  • Cambodia stands firm on 5PC: No invite for Myanmar to ASEAN Summit this year

    Cambodia has not invited Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, chairman of Myanmar’s ruling State Administration Council (SAC), to the 40th and 41st ASEAN Summit and related meetings scheduled for next month in Phnom Penh. The government will instead invite a non-political representative from Myanmar

  • Mushrooming borey projects and home financing – a cause for concern?

    A spurt in housing developments is typically a sign of a growing economy but underneath all that might lay some anxiety of credit growth as developers offer financing to buyers at higher rates, an activity the central bank identifies as ‘shadow banking’ Earlier this year,

  • Thai Senate delegates in Cambodia to discuss anti-graft co-op

    A delegation from Thailand's Senate was in Phnom Penh on September 28 to meet their Cambodian counterparts to discuss strategies for fighting corruption and enhancing cooperation. The Thai delegates were from its Senate’s Committee on Studying and Inspecting Corruption, Misconduct and Strengthening Good Governance. They

  • Scholarship winner tells secrets to success

    Chhim Chaknineath was awarded the Chevening Scholarship for one year of postgraduate study in the UK for the academic year 2022-2023 along with a group of 10 other outstanding students who applied. She spent more than a year researching and studying – as well as consulting with