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Conte laments Italy World Cup failure

Antonio Conte lamented Italy's failure to qualify for the World Cup and even shouldered some of the blame, insisting Gian Piero Ventura should not be made a scapegoat.

The Chelsea manager's successor oversaw a 1-0 aggregate play-off loss to Sweden as the Azzurri missed out on a spot at Russia 2018.

It is the first time since 1958 that Italy have not managed to reach the tournament, with Ventura paying the ultimate price when he was sacked this week.

But Conte, who left the role after losing to Germany on penalties in the Euro 2016 quarter-finals, claimed the problems run deeper than one man.

"My feeling is the same as any Italian person," he said. "First of all, I am very sad. This is a big stop for our football movement after [60] years and you miss the World Cup. You know very well the importance of football in Italy.

"Football is at the top of the interest of every single person, but I think you have to try together to find the right solution because every department in Italy has to take the responsibility. Not only one, two or three persons, because when you fail, the whole country fails.

"It is not the fault of one or two or three persons. In this case, I think it is my failure, your failure [in the media], the failure of Italy.

"I think that this moment is very sad for us, but we must use this moment to reflect and to try to find the right solution, not only with words but also facts."

Asked if he would consider a return to the helm of his homeland, Conte insisted his focus remained squarely on matters at Stamford Bridge.

"Now I am very focused to do my best for Chelsea and my only focus now is to try to create a good structure at Chelsea," he said.

"To create a good basis with this team, we won [the title] last season, but we know very well there is a lot of work to do, and I am very focused on Chelsea and totally committed to the club."