Toni: I'm not to blame for Italy Euro exit

September 4, 2008

FLORENCE, Sept 4 (Reuters) - Italy striker Luca Toni declare that his poor form at Euro 2008 was not to blame for former coach Roberto Donadoni losing his job.

The Azzurri recalled 2006 World Cup-winning boss Marcello Lippi after their unsuccessful campaign in Austria and Switzerland, when they won just one match in four under Donadoni and went out to eventual champions Spain on penalties in the quarter-finals.

'I had a pinch of bad luck at the European championships, but it's not as if Donadoni is not here because of me,' Toni told reporters at a training camp near Florence, where Italy are preparing for their opening World Cup qualifiers against Cyprus and Georgia.

'Not scoring (at Euro 2008) was the biggest disappointment of my career. But all that is over now. I'm fired up and I want to score for club and country.'

The Bayern Munich forward said the world champions cannot afford any slips when they take on Cyprus in Larnaca on Saturday and Georgia at home four days later.

'These are the first games and we know we have to start well. Victory is only result for us,' said the 31-year-old, who is set to return to international action after missing Italy's 2-2 draw with Austria last month with a calf injury.

'Lippi is as charged up as four years ago (when he took over for the first time),' he added.

'He looks very determined to me because he knows the responsibility he has. He wants to show is a great coach.'