Marcello Lippi insists he will not renew his contract before the World Cup finals, prompting speculation over the Italy coach’s future.
The Azzurri booked their ticket to South Africa on Saturday with a dramatic draw over the Republic of Ireland at Croke Park.
There is now real confidence in the country that they can become the first team to successfully defend the title since Brazil in 1962.
It is a spectacular turnaround from Italy’s disastrous Euro 2008 campaign under Roberto Donadoni and fans are urging the federation to tie Lippi to a long-term deal.
However, the Azzurri boss is adamant he will not be signing anything before next summer.
“Why?” he said. “If then everything goes bad, would I remain just because I had a contract?”
Lippi acted similarly in his previous stint as Italy coach and left the Azzurri immediately after steering them to World Cup glory in 2006.
Speculation is rife in the Italian media that the 61-year-old has already informed the federation of his desire to step down after the finals and a successor is already being sought.
Reports suggest Lippi will return to Juventus, who he coached for three years, in a ’super manager’ role similar to director of football.
Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti and England boss Fabio Capello are thought to head the federation’s list of possible replacements, although it would be difficult to prise either away from their current posts.
The federation’s president, Giancarlo Abete, claims he is only looking as far ahead as South Africa at the moment.
“I’m not intervening on who will be in charge after the World Cup, I’m only thinking of the World Cup,” he told Radio Anch’io lo Sport.
“I understand that there are thoughts about post-World Cup, but we’re concentrating ourselves on the World Cup.”