Iachini tips Zola to prosper

Conte praises Inter Milan players and staff after they take Serie A top spot

The former Italy and Chelsea forward has taken the reins of the club where he retired as a player in 2005 following the dismissal of Zdenek Zeman, whose disappointing six-month tenure left Cagliari floundering in the Serie A relegation zone.

Promoted Palermo may be 10 points better off heading into the new year but their Marchese boss Iachini feels the Rossoblu will recover quickly under Zola’s management.

Speaking before Tuesday afternoon’s meeting at the Stadio Renzo Barbera, he told a press conference: “Zola’s arrival is a factor that we cannot underestimate.

“He can push them forward. Cagliari are a great side with a lot of talented players.”

A 3-3 draw with Atalanta consolidated Palermo’s position just inside the top half of the table yet Iachini understands they could soon slip out of 10th place if they do not refocus.

“When you regroup after a break there are unknown factors that come into play,” he added.

“Getting back to speed as soon as possible will be fundamental to our cause.

“We cannot let ourselves be distracted by the usual transfer rumours but instead we must concentrate fully on playing to our full potential straight away.”

Swiss defender Fabio Daprela is the only injury concern for Iachini’s Sicilians while 18th-placed Cagliari are without striker Marco Sau.

Zeman’s last contribution to the Sardinian’s quest was a 3-1 home defeat to leaders Juventus and the Rossoblu have not won a league game since October.

Zola, now 48, spoke of his pride upon taking over at the Sant’Elia two weeks ago.

“This is a special place for me,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “I have an opportunity to work for a club that is full of ideas, one that has a philosophy that I like.

“It’s sad to see us in this position and so I’m here to make a big effort to fix it.”