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Don’t count the Italians out, says Dacourt

June 2, 2012

JOHOR BARU: As the heat intensifies for the Euro 2012, former French international footballer Olivier Dacourt has told football fans not to bet against the Italians during the championship.

He said the Italian national team might have had match-fixing scandals during the 1982 and 2006 World Cups.

“However, Italy has risen to the occasion and emerged world champion, despite having bribery scandals involving their players,” he said when met by pressmen during a get-together session with the Johor FA management and players at a hotel here yesterday.

Also present was Johor FA president Tunku Mahkota Johor Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim.

Dacourt, who played in the Serie A and had spells with AS Roma and Inter Milan from 2003 until 2009, predicted that the Italian national team would perform “very well” during the European Championship at Poland and Ukraine.

On the match-fixing scandals, he said such scandals would only unite the Italian players.

“The Italians are known to be mentally strong and capable of doing wonders if the odds are against them,” he said.

The Italian national team’s preparation for the Euro 2012 was reportedly hit with a match-fixing scandal dubbed “Calcioscommesse” when 19 people were initially picked up by the Italian police, following an investigation into illegal betting.

Of this, 14 were arrested, including Lazio captain Stefano Mauri and Padova midfielder Omar Milanetto, formerly of Genoa, three were placed under house arrest and two more ordered to present themselves to the police.

Juventus coach Antonio Conte and Chievo captain Sergio Pellissier were submitted to a home search.

The “Calcioscommesse” affair is believed to involve a group of Hungarians, a group of “zingari” –  gypsies in Italy – and heads of a Singapore-based crime syndicate.

Dacourt also foresees that France, Holland, Portugal and defending champion Spain would be in the top four in this year’s tournament.

As a Frenchman, he wants to see his national team win the Euro 2012 as they have strong players.

“It will be good for the future of French football,” he said.

On England’s chances, especially under their new manager, Roy Hodgson, who he once played against during his time at Fulham, Dacourt said that England must beat France first, if they wanted to stake a claim on the trophy.



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