Balotelli must put Italy first, says Prandelli

Rio de Janeiro: Italy coach Cesare Prandelli has urged tempestuous striker Mario Balotelli to put his teammates first by avoiding controversy during the Confederations Cup in Brazil.

Italy`s squad had their first training session since arriving here Monday as they prepare for their opening match of the tournament against Mexico at Rio`s Maracana stadium Sunday.

Balotelli, who was sent off in Italy`s 0-0 draw in a World Cup qualifier against the Czech Republic last Friday, was among the players most keenly watched during the light training session at the Engenhao complex in Rio`s north.

His dismissal in Prague was the 22-year-old`s sixth of his career and he vented his fury by punching and kicking the plexiglass wall of the players` dugout.

"Players need to have greater tolerance at times," Prandelli said Monday. "If there is a problem he has to remember that it has to be resolved by the group."

Italy will prepare for Sunday`s match with a friendly against 2012 Oceania Nations Cup winners Tahiti at Vasco da Gama`s Sao Januario`s stadium Tuesday.

Prandelli said he would give a chance to those in his squad who missed out against the Czech republic.

When asked about his thoughts on Mexico, Prandelli said his team had utmost respect for Jose Manuel de la Torre`s side.

"They are the Olympic champions with a very talented team and a great coach," the Italian said. "They are always a difficult team to play against and this tournament will be no different."

Italy`s group also includes host nation Brazil and Asian Cup holders Japan. The top two teams from the tournament`s two groups will playoff for a place in the final June 30.