EUROPEAN FOOTBALL

‘Players are angry’: Italy coach Ventura insists his team will qualify for the 2018 World Cup

Gian Piero Ventura saw his team lose 1-0 to Sweden in the first leg of the playoff.

Italy coach Gian Piero Ventura insisted Saturday that the four-time champions will still make the 2018 World Cup finals despite a 1-0 loss to Sweden in the first leg of their play-off.

Substitute Jakob Johansson grabbed the only goal of a scrappy game in the 61st minute with a low strike that found the corner with the aid of a big deflection to leave Italy in danger of missing the World Cup for the first time in 60 years.

“I feel so strongly that we will qualify because I saw the players in the dressing room and they were angry,” said Ventura who now must turn the tie around in the do-or-die second leg in Milan on Monday.

“They know they can do better. It was a physical match which surprised us but we are going to do better.”

The last time Italy failed to reach the World Cup was for the 1958 tournament in Sweden, but Ventura’s side were already under pressure going into the tie after a disappointing end to their Group G campaign that featured a 3-0 loss in Spain and a 1-1 home draw with Macedonia.

“There are still 90 minutes left to play,” aded Ventura, who took over from Antonio Conte after Euro 2016.

“It was a tough, physical match that could have gone a different way if we scored first.

“The performance of the referee was good overall, but I think that he allowed the match to be physical at the expense of technique... He probably didn’t have complete control of the match.”

Andrea Belotti shook off an injury to partner Ciro Immobile up front, but the away team struggled to pose a consistent attacking threat, as Ventura left in-form Napoli winger Lorenzo Insigne sitting on the bench until the 76th minute.

Both sides created early half-chances, with Torino striker Belotti heading wide when he should have done better, and Ola Toivonen firing past the post at the other end just seconds later.

Roared on by a vociferous home crowd, Sweden put Italy under pressure with their direct style of play and Emil Forsberg went close with a curling effort that flew over the crossbar.

Verratti blow

Italy suffered a blow when key midfielder Marco Verratti was handed a booking that ruled him out of Monday’s second leg for a lunging tackle on Marcus Berg.

Veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, who will retire from international duty after the World Cup campaign, showed excellent pace off his line to claw the ball away from Toivonen, as neither team managed to carve out a clear-cut opportunity in a first half without an effort on target.

The visitors finally produced a shot in anger shortly after the break when Antonio Candreva fired a dipping shot which was punched away by home keeper Robin Olsen.

A scrappy game was never likely to be decided by a moment of brilliance, and it was a lucky break that gave Janne Andersson’s men the lead just after the hour mark.

Johansson latched onto Toivonen’s header from an Emil Krafth long throw to fire a shot that wrong-footed Buffon after spinning off Daniele de Rossi.

It was the perfect time for the AEK Athens midfielder to score his first international goal, having only come off the bench four minutes earlier.

“It’s fantastic, I put my goal down to instinct. Great timing for my first international goal,” Johansson said.

Italy immediately stepped up their game in search of a precious away goal and Manchester United full-back Matteo Darmian rattled the post with a thunderous long-range strike.

Insigne created a late opening for Immobile, but the Lazio striker summed up a poor night for Italy with a wild shot that almost went out for a throw-in, as Sweden closed out a win that gives them a real chance of reaching the World Cup for the first time since 2006.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Virat Kohli and Ola come together to improve Delhi's air quality

The onus of curbing air-pollution is on citizens as well

A recent study by The Lancet Journal revealed that outdoor pollution was responsible for 6% of the total disease burden in India in 2016. As a thick smog hangs low over Delhi, leaving its residents gasping for air, the pressure is on the government to implement SOS measures to curb the issue as well as introduce long-term measures to improve the air quality of the state. Other major cities like Mumbai, Pune and Kolkata should also acknowledge the gravitas of the situation.

The urgency of the air-pollution crisis in the country’s capital is being reflected on social media as well. A recent tweet by Virat Kohli, Captain of the Indian Cricket Team, urged his fans to do their bit in helping the city fight pollution. Along with the tweet, Kohli shared a video in which he emphasized that curbing pollution is everyone’s responsibility. Apart from advocating collective effort, Virat Kohli’s tweet also urged people to use buses, metros and Ola share to help reduce the number of vehicles on the road.

In the spirit of sharing the responsibility, ride sharing app Ola responded with the following tweet.

To demonstrate its commitment to fight the problem of vehicular pollution and congestion, Ola is launching #ShareWednesdays : For every ​new user who switches to #OlaShare in Delhi, their ride will be free. The offer by Ola that encourages people to share resources serves as an example of mobility solutions that can reduce the damage done by vehicular pollution. This is the fourth leg of Ola’s year-long campaign, #FarakPadtaHai, to raise awareness for congestion and pollution issues and encourage the uptake of shared mobility.

In 2016, WHO disclosed 10 Indian cities that made it on the list of worlds’ most polluted. The situation necessitates us to draw from experiences and best practices around the world to keep a check on air-pollution. For instance, a system of congestion fees which drivers have to pay when entering central urban areas was introduced in Singapore, Oslo and London and has been effective in reducing vehicular-pollution. The concept of “high occupancy vehicle” or car-pool lane, implemented extensively across the US, functions on the principle of moving more people in fewer cars, thereby reducing congestion. The use of public transport to reduce air-pollution is another widely accepted solution resulting in fewer vehicles on the road. Many communities across the world are embracing a culture of sustainable transportation by investing in bike lanes and maintenance of public transport. Even large corporations are doing their bit to reduce vehicular pollution. For instance, as a participant of the Voluntary Traffic Demand Management project in Beijing, Lenovo encourages its employees to adopt green commuting like biking, carpooling or even working from home. 18 companies in Sao Paulo executed a pilot program aimed at reducing congestion by helping people explore options such as staggering their hours, telecommuting or carpooling. After the pilot, drive-alone rates dropped from 45-51% to 27-35%.

It’s the government’s responsibility to ensure that the growth of a country doesn’t compromise the natural environment that sustains it, however, a substantial amount of responsibility also lies on each citizen to lead an environment-friendly lifestyle. Simple lifestyle changes such as being cautious about usage of electricity, using public transport, or choosing locally sourced food can help reduce your carbon footprint, the collective impact of which is great for the environment.

Ola is committed to reducing the impact of vehicular pollution on the environment by enabling and encouraging shared rides and greener mobility. They have also created flat fare zones across Delhi-NCR on Ola Share to make more environment friendly shared rides also more pocket-friendly. To ensure a larger impact, the company also took up initiatives with City Traffic Police departments, colleges, corporate parks and metro rail stations.

Join the fight against air-pollution by using the hashtag #FarakPadtaHai and download Ola to share your next ride.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Ola and not by the Scroll editorial team.