Maradona rues Italy's World Cup absence

Rome - Argentine legend Diego Maradona lamented Italy's failure to qualify for next year's World Cup, regretting the absence of "one of the greats" of international football.

Four-time world champions Italy missed out on a place in the finals after Monday's 0-0 draw in Milan in the second leg of their European play-off sent Sweden through 1-0 on aggregate.

"I am very sorry that Italy didn't make it to the World Cup. The Italians always offer a certain flair to the tournament," Maradona wrote on his Facebook page Tuesday.

"I watched the match and it seems to me that Italy played as Sweden wanted, crossing the ball. And they had two huge centre backs," added the former Napoli star, a World Cup winner in 1986.

"The competition gets tougher and more closed each time. It's sad that Italy, one of the greats, has been left out of the Russian World Cup."