Johannesburg, June 26 : Crashed out of the soccer World Cup following a 2-3 defeat against Slovakia, defending champions Italy have been facing flak for being the team of "old" footballers.
Fabio Cannavaro, captain of the disgraced team, said the former world champions need to improve their talent pool or risk continuing to struggle in international as well as in domestic tournaments.
"I think there are not many changes we can make. At the moment, Italy is not producing players like in my generation when we had great players," he said Friday.
"It's not just the national team, it's the clubs. We have good players but not top drawer. I've been saying for a while that the system has to change. We have to invest in youth."
Critics said the Italian players were too old to be contenders for the cup but only a few had expected the first-round elimination of the four-time winner.
The Azzurri were forced out of the tornament after losing its Thursday's match to Slovakia. The team finished bottom of their group for the first time ever following 1-1 draws with Paraguay and New Zealand.
Italy's coach Marcello Lippi announced after the match that he would take a break from football for several months.
Cannavaro, 36, who led Italy to the World Cup glory four years ago, also announced his retirement from international football.
Having signed a two-year deal with Al-Ahli Dubai, the Juventus defender is set to move to the United Arab Emirates this summer.