Italy set to experiment against Cameroon

Italy set to experiment against Cameroon

Published Mar. 2, 2010 3:39 p.m. ET

Italy coach Marcello Lippi is likely to name an experimental side when his team meets Cameroon in an international friendly on Wednesday.

For the world champion it is the last chance to try out new faces and Lippi has given first time call ups to goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu, defender Leonardo Bonucci and striker Andrea Cossu.

Italy's other pre-World Cup friendlies are against Mexico and Switzerland on June 3 and 5.

In training Lippi has been trying out a three man central defense of captain Fabio Cannavaro and Giorgio Chiellini alongside newcomer Bonucci.

"Why the new system? To try something different," Lippi said. "The difference between a back three and a back four is minimal. Quite a few teams change shape during the course of a game, we should be able to as well."

Lippi had been trying to coax Alessandro Nesta out of international retirement, but since the AC Milan defender definitely ruled out a return on Monday he has been forced to look at other options.

"I'm very disappointed with his refusal, but I'm still hopeful." Lippi said. "He said no to me in a definitive manner and that he doesn't feel up to it. I'm very sorry, but I respect his decision."

There are also opportunities for strikers Marco Borriello and Antonio Di Natale to make a push for a place in the squad for South Africa in the absence of regular strikers Alberto Gilardino, Giuseppe Rossi and Vincenzo Iaquinta.

Borriello is in line to be the main target man following his nine goals and impressive form as part of an attacking trident alongside Ronaldinho and Alexandre Pato at Milan.

Di Natale was a regular in the build up to Euro 2008, but since then has lost his place through injury. However, his position at the top of the scorer's table with 19 for struggling Udinese has brought him back into contention and he trained as part of an attacking three with Borriello and would-be debutant Cossu.

"We have to try new systems and this is the last chance to do so," Lippi said. "I have to give these new players in the squad a chance. We shall see how they do and then make our judgment.

"Cameroon is strong and there's a chance we may meet again in the quarterfinals of the World Cup," he said. "We have a slightly different look due a number of injured players, but I'm not worried as I console myself that they will be fresher in South Africa."

Cameroon will be using the friendly as a way of rebuilding confidence after crashing out of the African Cup of Nations in the quarterfinals.

Coach Paul Le Guen has reacted to the loss to Egypt by turning to youth. The Frenchman has made seven changes to his squad including calling up Sebastien Bassong, Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Joel Matip.

Like Italy, Cameroon has two further matches before the start of the World Cup on June 11. It meets Slovakia on May 29 and Portugal on June 1.