Mon, Nov 20, 2006 - Page 18 News List

Italy coach tips Argentina for next year's World Cup

AFP , ROME

Italy coach Pierre Berbizier tipped Argentina as dark horses for next year's World Cup after his side were beaten by the touring Pumas in Rome on Saturday.

Despite making eight changes to the team that started last week's stunning victory against England, the visitors won 23-16 with a solid display at the Flaminio stadium.

"I think they are strong outsiders for the World Cup and they will be dangerous opponents for any team," Berbizier said. "We didn't play the way we had hoped, while Argentina played with intelligence. When we had them under some pressure, they stayed calm and they have players who were able to get them out of danger."

Federico Todeschini and Miguel Avramovic scored second-half tries as Argentina fought back after trailing by six points at the interval.

Todeschini's kicking contributed another 13 points while Marko Stanojevic scored Italy's only try a minute from time. David Bortolussi's boot yielded the rest of the home side's points.

Italy came into the match in confident mood after pushing Australia all the way last week before eventually succumbing to a 25-18 defeat, but once again a lack of imagination among their backs proved their downfall.

Italy captain Marco Bortolami lamented his team's inability to convert possession into more than the one try.

"We didn't make enough of the ball we had," he said. "It's frustrating because we didn't play to our full potential."

Argentina coach Marcelo Loffreda, whose side conclude their European tour away to France next weekend, was delighted to see his reshaped team overcome the Azzurri.

"The victory is immensely satisfying because I made a lot of changes and the guys who came in didn't let me down," he said.

"I wanted to give others the chance to show what they could, and I was really pleased with what I saw. Sometimes changes can upset the balance of the team, but I thought we looked fairly solid today," he said.

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