Zahoui coy over I.Coast job after win over Italy

Updated: Aug 11, 2010, 17:59 PM IST

London: Interim Ivory Coast coach Francois Zahoui refused to be drawn on whether he`d take the job vacated by Sven Goran Eriksson on a permanent basis even after beating Italy in his first game in charge.

The former Elephants midfielder, who is coach of the national youth team, watched his side defeat an experimental Azzurri side 1-0 thanks to Kolo Toure`s second-half header at Upton Park.

Zahoui was put in charge after Eriksson left the post last week for financial reasons, ending a four-and-a-half month stint as coach.

The Ivory Coast Football Federation want to appoint a permanent coach before the 2012 African Cup of Nations qualifiers begin in early September, with former Marseille manager Gerard Gili the frontrunner.

But Zahoui`s side did him proud, dominating the game held at the London home ground of Premier League club West Ham for long periods, although Italy defender Marco Motta hit the post.

Zahoui, who had chosen a team completely comprised of players who travelled to the World Cup, said: "I am very proud to have beaten this Italy team. It was a very strong side and it was important for us to win.”

"I work for the youth team and I am only in charge for this international game. I am proud to work for the senior team but it is important to remember that I am in this position only until the federation decides what to do.”

"The federation can choose who they want but I am very proud to be in charge today (Tuesday). Whoever continues is a matter for the federation to decide."

Zahoui was missing Didier Drogba as the Chelsea striker has yet to fully recover from a groin operation, but forwards Salomon Kalou, Gervinho and Seydou Doumbia gave a new-look Italian backline no end of problems.

And the Elephants` defence was rarely troubled by Italy`s debutants up front, with Brazil-born Amauri, Antonio Cassano and Mario Balotelli -- the latter two controversially omitted from the World Cup -- ending with nothing to show for their efforts.

Italy were coming off the back of a dismal World Cup and their new boss, Cesare Prandelli, was keen to draw a line under the Marcello Lippi era.

But Zahoui said the future was bright for Italy under the former Fiorentina coach, adding: "It was probably the last bad World Cup they will have because they are very strong. I think everything is going to be fine."

Prandelli was left frustrated his men could not break down the Elephants` defence while also letting Toure in for his 55th-minute header.

But he pointed to the fact that the Serie A season has yet to start, meaning his players were not at full fitness.

"We were looking to go through Cassano through the middle but we weren`t able to, which caused us to go down the wings," Prandelli said.

"That was disappointing.”

"Their defence was strong so we weren`t able to get the ball through as we wanted to but I`m not worried.”

"The players aren`t in good enough condition yet. The Italian championship hasn`t started yet so I`m sure we will be better when we start qualifying for the Euros because everyone will be fit then."

Prandelli added: "It`s a lot of work. We have to create a good group here. That`s our aim. I will work hard to achieve that now."

Bureau Report