Lippi future to be finalised

ROME - Marcello Lippi's long-term future as Italy coach will be decided before the world champions travel to South Africa for next year's World Cup, the head of the Italian football federation said on Wednesday.

There has been speculation in the Italian media that Lippi will not continue beyond his current contract which expires at the end of the World Cup and could return to former club Juventus, possibly as a director.

"Obviously results are important in football but you cannot leave the decision on the future of the national team coach until after the World Cup," federation head Giancarlo Abete told Rai television during Italy's 1-0 win over Sweden in a friendly.

"We need go to South Africa with our ideas clear."

Abete said he wanted to avoid the uncertainty that surrounded Roberto Donadoni's future in the job in the run-up to Euro 2008.