Italy remains without a win in 2010
Italy has a new coach, a bunch of promising new players and a new outlook after its disastrous first-round exit from the World Cup.
Still, the Azzurri can't find a way to win.
The 2006 World Cup winner was beaten 1-0 by Ivory Coast in coach Cesare Prandelli's debut Tuesday, extending the squad's streak without a win in 2010 to seven matches.
''A loss hurts more after other losses,'' midfielder Daniele De Rossi, who was captain for the friendly, said Wednesday. ''It's been a horrible year up to this point, but this is just the beginning of a new two-year term.''
Italy opens 2012 European Championship qualifying against Estonia and the Faeroe Islands next month and will have only one round of Serie A to prepare, with the Italian league season not due to begin until Aug. 28.
At the World Cup, Italy put on a particularly poor performance for a defending champion, drawing 1-1 with both Paraguay and New Zealand before losing 3-2 to Slovakia.
The Azzurri haven't won since beating Sweden 1-0 in a friendly in November.
''We've got to understand that one friendly in August isn't enough to regain our competitiveness. It's a long-term job that requires everyone working together,'' said Italian football federation president Giancarlo Abete.
Five players made their national team debuts against Ivory Coast and fullback Marco Motta went close to scoring in the 47th minute when he shot against the post before defender Kolo Toure headed the African side ahead in the 55th.
''With only three days of training we couldn't ask for anything more,'' said Prandelli, who signed a four-year contract when Marcello Lippi resigned after the World Cup.
The most highly awaited debuts were made by Inter Milan's 19-year-old forward Mario Balotelli and Brazilian-born striker Amauri, who recently gained Italian citizenship. Prandelli also recalled talented but temperamental playmaker Antonio Cassano, who was spurned by Lippi.
Cassano showed flashes of creativity, floating a cross almost from the touchline that Amauri just headed over the goal four minutes before halftime, while Balotelli appeared to struggle physically.
''Mario was playing his very first game. I really like the way he cuts across the pitch - he's got a real striker's style and he's got desire and enthusiasm,'' said Prandelli, the former Fiorentina manager. ''The future is in his hands, just like Antonio.''
With Fabio Cannavaro retired from international play and goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon recovering from back surgery, De Rossi was the de facto captain. Center back Giorgio Chiellini was one of the few other holdovers from the World Cup side.
''We've got less experience and a lower average age but a lot more enthusiasm,'' Chiellini said. ''We were just unlucky tonight. We've got a new group and we're all trying to work together to get Italy back to the level where it belongs.''