ROME (AP) Under-21 coach Luigi Di Biagio was promoted Monday to take over Italy’s senior national team on a caretaker basis for friendlies against Argentina and England next month.
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The Azzurri have been without a coach since Gian Piero Ventura was fired following a playoff loss to Sweden in November that ruled Italy out of the World Cup for the first time in six decades.
Italy plays Argentina in Manchester, England, on March 23 then faces England in London four days later. The Azzurri’s next competitive fixture isn’t until Sept. 7 against Poland in the inaugural UEFA Nations League.
The 46-year-old Di Biagio played for Italy as a midfielder at the 1998 and 2002 World Cups.
Roberto Mancini, Carlo Ancelotti and former Italy coach Antonio Conte are among those being considered for the full-time job.
Roberto Fabbricini, the Italian football federation’s emergency commissioner, mentioned Mancini as a candidate last week.
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On Monday, he also mentioned current Nantes manager Claudio Ranieri as a possibility.
“Ranieri is no less appealing than Mancini. He’s got the credentials,” Fabbricini said. “But we need to be attentive from a procedural point of view. Many of these coaches are currently under contract. Either they free themselves up or it will be difficult to ask them to consider the job.”
Ranieri coached Leicester to an improbable English Premier League title in 2016.
Fabbricini also suggested that many current Serie A coaches could be considered – perhaps referring to Massimiliano Allegri at six-time defending champion Juventus.
“It’s Alessandro Costacurta’s job to get in contact with the candidates,” Fabbricini said, referring to his vice commissioner and the former AC Milan and Italy defender.