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Thursday, June 24, 2010
Hamsik admits shock at victory

Soccernet staff

Marek Hamsik admits the world will be shocked to see Slovakia dump defending champions Italy out of the World Cup.

Italy heading home.

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Slovakia held off some late pressure to beat Italy 3-2 and sneak into second spot in Group F behind Paraguay, with the Azzurri finishing bottom of the group below New Zealand.

Hamsik, who plays his club football in Serie A with Napoli, told Sky Italia: "Nobody expected this. It's an historic result and Italy were among the favourites.

"We were 2-0 up and then sat back a bit, which could've ended badly for us, but thankfully we scored the third goal and that finished off the game.

"We deserved the victory and are very glad to be through. Just qualifying for the World Cup was a real achievement and nobody expected us to reach the final 16, especially after drawing Italy in our group, so this is extraordinary. We went into the game knowing we had nothing to lose and everything to gain."

Slovakia coach Vladimir Weiss said: "First of all I may say it's so unbelievable, it was a fantastic day for us. We had good preparation for the match with the staff and the players. After the birth of my son, it's the second-best day of my life.

"I want to say thanks to the people of Slovakia, who followed us to South Africa. I am very proud of my team - they played a very high level for 80 minutes. There was big pressure in the last ten minutes but we played a fantastic game and the better team won.

"Today we are happy people and this is a celebration. I believe today everyone is celebrating in the streets. I want to tell my wife that I love her."

Italy coach Marcello Lippi, who led the side to success four years ago, says he is to blame for the performances in the tournament.

"I take all responsibility, because if a team arrives at such an important appointment as this with terror in their legs, heads and hearts, unable to express themselves, then it means the coach has not prepared the squad properly on any level," he said.

"There are tactical and physical issues, too, but I think above all it is to do with the psychological aspect. I felt this team could achieve something and evidently I did not prepare them properly. I expected everything but the first half performance.

"I am very disappointed to end my second experience on the Italy bench like this. I certainly didn't expect it. I didn't think I'd win the World Cup a second time, but [did not expect] to crash out in the group phase.

"I wish my successor the best and thank all of you for these four years, which were in part fantastic and in part very, very disappointing."

Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon added: "It is only right that Italy go home. Slovakia and New Zealand are teams to be respected and nothing more. If we don't beat at least one of them, then we have no place here."

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