Milena Bertolini steps down as Italy coach after group stage Women’s World Cup exit

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Milena Bertolini has announced her departure as the head coach of Italy following their elimination from the Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

Italy started with a victory against Argentina but suffered a heavy defeat against Sweden, and their hopes were dashed when South Africa scored a last-minute goal to secure a 3-2 win, leaving Italy in third place in Group G.

Bertolini, who is 57 years old, assumed leadership in 2017 and supervised Italy’s impressive performance in reaching the quarter-finals of the 2019 World Cup. However, their recent elimination in the tournament was another letdown following their last-place finish with only one point in their group during Euro 2022.

“I leave the national team after so many beautiful and very intense years, which I will always carry with me,” Bertolini said on Sunday in a lengthy statement posted on her Instagram.

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“It is not always possible to achieve positive results, but I have no doubts about everyone’s commitment and good intentions.”

A day after Italy’s exit, a statement on Instagram signed by “players of the national team” said the team were “not put in the condition” to succeed. The statement was shared by veteran forwards Cristiana Girelli and Barbara Bonansea, among others.

“Too naive and obvious is the search for a scapegoat,” Bertolini said. “I do not feel any resentment and I have no reason to feel or look for a culprit.”

Bertolini had previously mentioned that Italy’s shaken self-assurance following the 5-0 loss to Sweden probably had a significant impact on their defeat against South Africa.

“We were never afraid. But we didn’t feel there was a lot of confidence in us either,” the players’ statement read.

“The national team is made up of a core of 16 Romaand Juventus players. We think it’s fair to ask how come a national team made up of this group of players, struggles a lot first at the Euros and now a World Cup.”

“The feeling of regret is still strong because we came to this World Cup wanting redemption … We’re sure we could have got different results if only we’d been put in the condition to do so.”

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