Italy Misses World Cup as Sweden Wins Playoff

Sweden and Italy gear up for World Cup playoff clash

Italy must not panic as they bid to avoid missing a World Cup for the first time in 60 years, goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon said after a 1-0 play-off first-leg defeat by Sweden pushed them to the brink of disaster.

For the first time since 1958, Italy won't be participating in a World Cup.

But former Italy worldwide Andrea Pirlo believes it is unsafe for the four-time World Cup winners to rely too heavily on the atmosphere generated by 65,000 frenetic fans in the San Siro.

Sweden had fallen at the same stage four years ago, beaten by Cristiano Ronaldo and...

"When incidents go badly for you, it's probably your own fault too and if it goes well, you earned your luck".

Those fears proved well-founded in the first leg in Stockholm, where Italy went down to a 61st-minute deflected strike from Jakob Johansson.

But that dramatic equaliser never came - even as goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon joined the Italy attack on a pair of late set-pieces - with the Swedes rushing the pitch at the final whistle to celebrate their ticket to Russian Federation. Prior to that, they had only missed the first edition of the event in 1930 in Uruguay, which they did not enter.

Branden Grace slides into Nedbank title with 66
Italian Francesco Molinari signed for a 65 and the lowest round of the week to move to three under par alongside South African Haydn Porteous .

Italy last won the World Cup in 2006.

With Sweden's qualification, 29 teams at the World Cup are now confirmed, with the winners of Ireland/Denmark, Australia/Honduras and Peru/New Zealand to be the final three into the tournament, with those games played on Wednesday morning, Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon, respectively.

"We are not stressed, personally I am focused on the game and I hope fans will support us".

Italy looked the stronger side, and had plenty of chances - 11 shots on goal to Sweden's one in the first half - but could not convert any. There's regret at finishing like that, not because time passes. My situation is not important at the moment.

The 0-0 draw saw the continuation of an unusual quirk in World Cup qualifying.

What TV channel is Italy vs Sweden on?

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