- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 9, 2017

ROME (AP) - Italy coach Gian Piero Ventura will remain in charge of the Azzurri until 2020 after signing a new contract on Wednesday.

Carlo Tavecchio, the president of the Italian football federation, announced the two-year extension in a news conference with Ventura.

“I thank Tavecchio who has put his faith in me, not so much for what has been done, but in the light of what we want to do,” the 69-year-old Ventura said. “It’s a trust which gives me extra motivation, with the absolute conviction that we can achieve something important.

“We have three aims: qualify for the World Cup, be the surprise of the World Cup and be the favorites for the European Championship.”

Ventura took charge of Italy in July 2016, replacing Antonio Conte, who left to join Chelsea after steering the Azzurri to the quarterfinals of the European Championship.

Italy has not lost any of its World Cup qualifiers under Ventura and is below Group G leader Spain on goal difference. It plays Spain in Madrid on Sept. 2.

The match in the Spanish capital will likely go a long way to deciding which of the two powerhouses automatically qualifies for the finals as group winner, and which will hope to reach a playoff as one of the group runners-up. After they play, both will have three qualifiers left against much less threatening sides.

“It’s a demonstration of our confidence in our national coach and to put him in the best condition mentally to face the decisive match against Spain,” Tavecchio said.

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