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Cannavaro drives Inter forward

Published: Tuesday 11 March 2003, 17.53CET finds Internazionale FC's Fabio Cannavaro in an upbeat frame of mind. features

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Published: Tuesday 11 March 2003, 17.53CET

Cannavaro drives Inter forward finds Internazionale FC's Fabio Cannavaro in an upbeat frame of mind.

By Paolo Menicucci in Milan

As a patched together Internazionale FC prepare to face Newcastle United FC at the San Siro, defender Fabio Cannavaro is setting his sights on victory.

Injury list
Despite a raft of injuries which will see the Nerazzurri without Marco Materazzi, Cristiano Zanetti, Daniele Adani, Matías Almeyda, Domenico Morfeo, Stéphane Dalmat, Mohamed Kallon, Hernán Crespo and Nicola Beati for the vital UEFA Champions League game, Cannavaro is determined to succeed. "Every time we play we want to win," the 29-year-old told "We must qualify for the quarter-finals without waiting until the last match against [Bayer 04] Leverkusen."

One-point ahead
Inter are currently second in Group A, one point ahead of Newcastle, with two games remaining. With Sir Bobby Robson's team facing FC Barcelona in their final game, a draw this evening will keep Héctor Cúper's side in control of their own destiny, while a win would see them advance.

In reserve
A former SSC Napoli and AC Parma star, Cannavaro admitted that the rash of injuries, and the suspension currently being served by Alvaro Recoba, had hampered Inter's plans, but maintained that his side had enough in reserve to reach the quarter-finals of the competition with a win against Newcastle.

Great replacements
"We have been dealing with emergencies for a long time now," he said. "We are used to it. All the absences will make the match more difficult for us but we know that we have a great squad and that we will [still] have great players in every position."

Tough task
Inter's 4-1 win at Newcastle in their first match of the second group stage was arguably their best performance of the season, but with striker Craig Bellamy having been sent off early in that game, Cannavaro was not anticipating such an easy ride at the San Siro.

'Naïve mistake'
"I have no doubt it will be a different kind of match," he said. "When we played in England they made a naïve mistake at the beginning of the match and they were forced to play with ten men against eleven for almost the entire 90 minutes."

Key threats
The defender, who was recently made captain of the Italian national side, has singled out Bellamy and his strike partner, Alan Shearer - who was awarded a two-match ban for elbowing Cannavaro in the clubs' last meeting - as the key threats to Inter.

Welsh winner
The 32-year-old Shearer has played against Italian sides six times during his career and has never scored, but Bellamy is adept at breaking Italian hearts after his winning goal for Wales in their 2-1 UEFA EURO 2004™ qualifying victory against Italy last October.

Newcastle firepower
"When we played in England [Bellamy] was sent off after just a few minutes, but I think he is one of those players who can make a difference," Cannavaro told "I hope we manage to defend well against [Shearer]. He's a top-quality striker and is extremely difficult to mark. I hope I can deal with him."

Italian hope
It could also be one of the keys to winning the competition, as Cannavaro remains convinced that Italian clubs are more than capable of ending their unsuccessful run in the Champions League, which stretches back to 1996. "This year Italian clubs have done a great job and I think that [AC] Milan, Juventus [FC] and ourselves have everything that is needed to win the Champions League in May," he said.

Last updated: 11/03/03 23.05CET

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