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Watch: Mancini left reeling after Italy’s shock World Cup elimination

Roberto Mancini was reeling from the most painful defeat of his managerial career after Thursday’s stunning, last-gasp 1-0 loss to North Macedonia meant they missed out on their second World Cup in a row.

Mancini had become a national hero after leading the Azzurri back from the horrors of failing to reach the 2018 tournament and winning Euro 2020 last summer.

However performance levels have dropped since those balmy nights and after throwing away automatic qualification in November Italy were dumped out in humiliating fashion in Palermo in a fraught play-off semi-final.

“Just like July was the best thing to happen to me in my career, this is my biggest disappointment… I’m really sad for my players,” Mancini told RAI.

“The disappointment is too much for me to speak about my future for now.”

If Mancini was vague on whether he would stay in his job the head of the Italian Football Federation, Gabriele Gravina, was clear that he wanted Mancini to stay on as manager even after a crushing blow for the country’s football.

It was a former Palermo player in Aleksandar Trajkovski who stunned the European champions, his low drive in the second minute of stoppage time setting up a qualifying final with Portugal in Porto on Tuesday for a chance to be in Qatar in November.

“We had two shots and won the game. We won like Italians against the Italians,” said Blagoja Milevski, whose side will have Napoli’s Eljif Elmas back from suspension for their trip to Porto.

Mancini’s side were loudly booed off after a defeat which means Italy will have to wait until at least 2026 to see its national team at a World Cup.

By then it will have been 12 years since the Azzurri’s last participation in the world’s biggest football tournament after they also crashed out in the play-offs in 2017.

Astonishingly Italy will not go to the World Cup despite only losing twice since the start of 2019, to Spain in the Nations League last autumn and on Thursday.

“It’s difficult to talk about a match in which we had 40 shots and they had one or two,” Mancini told reporters later.

“I’m the coach, when in football things go wrong it’s the coach’s fault, so I am responsible.”

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