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Prandelli promises to stay on as Italy coach

(AP Photo/Jon Super)

By ANDREW DAMPF

AP Sports Writer

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) There were times when Cesare Prandelli pondered resigning as Italy's coach after this European Championship.

But after seeing his players reduced to tears following a 4-0 rout by Spain in Sunday's final, Prandelli can't bear the thought of leaving them anymore.

"It's already been written that the project does not stop here, and that it must continue," Prandelli said. "Of course, my decision also takes into account the loss. It's impossible to leave now."

Hired to replace Marcello Lippi after Italy's embarrassing first-round exit from the 2010 World Cup, Prandelli has a four-year contract that lasts through the 2014 World Cup.

Prandelli acknowledged two days before the final that he was worn down from the match-fixing scandal afflicting the Azzurri back home. He was also upset that Italian clubs did not allow him to hold any mini-training camps with his squad during the season.

Before the final, Italian Olympic Committee President Giovanni Petrucci declared that the Serie A presidents will gather for a meeting to be reminded of the national team's importance.

"Prandelli has a solid relationship with the federation, and we will try to place him in the best possible conditions to continue a job that has produced great results," Italian football federation President Giancarlo Abete said.

In two years, Prandelli revolutionized a squad long known for its notorious "catenaccio" - lockdown defense - and instilled an attack-at-all-costs philosophy. He also found a way to coax the best out of temperamental, but potentially explosive players like Mario Balotelli and Antonio Cassano, who Lippi ignored.

"There's the disappointment of the final right now, but we can't forget where we started, how we got to the final and the values that we upheld," Abete said. "Italian football has returned to the prestigious position where it belongs."

In 16 competitive matches under Prandelli, the final marked Italy's first loss.

"When we see the lights of the Kiev stadium from the airplane it will be painful, but tomorrow we'll have a new outlook," Prandelli said. "We have shown that you can lose with dignity."

Italy's next match is an Aug. 15 friendly with England, which comes four days after the Italian Super Cup between Juventus and Napoli in Beijing.

"We're going to examine the Super Cup situation very carefully," Abete said. "We've got to create conditions where the national team uses its best men."

Updated July 1, 2012

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