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I won't quit says Italy coach Trapattoni

© Reuters 2002

ROME, Oct 14 (Reuters) - Italy coach Giovanni Trapattoni has rejected calls for his resignation ahead of his side's European Championship qualifier against Wales on Wednesday.

Italy's lacklustre 1-1 draw with Yugoslavia on Saturday provoked a storm of criticism and calls for the return of Trapattoni's predecessor, Dino Zoff.

"The truth is that you journalists would like to change the coach every two months," he was quoted as saying in La Gazzetta dello Sport on Monday.

"When I was 40, I reacted to results differently. Now I'm calm, I sleep at night, I don't see ghosts."

Trapattoni's popularity is at rock bottom after winning just two out of his last nine matches in charge, including a humiliating 1-0 loss in a friendly against Slovenia in August.

After Italy's scrappy 2-0 win against Azerbaijan in their first Euro 2004 qualifier last month and their second round exit in the World Cup to South Korea, Trapattoni needed a win against Yugoslavia to restore confidence.

Instead they were forced to come from behind, Alessandro Del Piero equalising from a free kick in the 38th minute after Predrag Mijatovic had given Yugoslavia the lead 11 minutes earlier.

The result left Trapattoni isolated and embattled, but he denied he had lost the respect of his team. "Either the players are liars and they're hiding their disaffection for me, or they don't have a problem.

"I always say to them: 'Trainers come and go. It's you who must be responsible'."

He did, however, add that his side were not playing as well as they did in qualifying for this summer's World Cup when they won their group in style, with six wins in eight games.

"A couple of years ago Italy were responding better and winning easily against Romania and Georgia. Something is missing.

"Let's see what happens in Wales," he added. "With a good result we can stay at the top of the group and wait for better times."

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