JOHANNESBURG - The World Cup moves into
the knockout stage on Saturday and although no-one can predict
exactly what will happen, one thing is likely: penalty shootouts
are about to cause more joy and heartache.
Since the first World Cup penalty shootout ended in victory
for West Germany over France in the 1982 semi-finals in Spain,
the do-or-die method of deciding drawn matches has created some
of the most memorable moments in the tournament's history.
Two finals have been settled by penalties, in 1994 when
Brazil beat Italy and in 2006 when Italy defeated France.
Diego Maradona, Socrates, Michel Platini and David Beckham
have all missed shootout kicks, while Roberto Baggio standing
head-bowed in horror after he skied the penalty that handed
Brazil the 1994 World Cup remains one of the enduring images of
Former international goalkeepers Oliver Kahn of Germany and
Sergio Goycochea of Argentina as well as current Czech Republic
keeper Petr Cech, who have all witnessed the highs and lows of
facing spotkicks in their careers, shared their thoughts with
the media on Friday, and the general agreement between them was
you need far more than just luck to save a penalty.
Kahn, who made 86 appearances for Germany between 1994 and
2006 said the body language of the penalty taker gave the goalie
the first clue about what was on his mind.
"You can read a lot from the body language of the player and
where he is thinking of placing it" Kahn said.
"It is a psychological duel between the goalkeeper and the
penalty taker. It has a lot to do with eye contact and body
"You can irritate him with your body language, you can see
whether a player is fearful and you can see from his eyes if he
makes a small mistake into which corner that ball will go."
Cech, whose Czech Republic side failed to reach the finals,
was asked by a reporter why if it was so easy to read body
language did so many penalties end up in the net.
He gave the reporter the sort of steely stare he might
reserve for Wayne Rooney or Lionel Messi as they prepared to
take a penalty against him.
"If you have three seconds to read the body language, its
easy, but if you have one tenth of a second to read his body
language before you can decide what way to go, then it becomes
difficult," he dead-panned straight back.
"You have to do your homework, you know where the player can
shoot, what his habit is, if he waits for the goalkeeper or if
he chooses the corner.
"But you need to be strong, stay calm, try to keep your
homework working, then you have a chance of saving it. You have
to make yourself big."
Kahn admitted than when his side Bayern Munich beat Valencia
on penalties in the 2001 Champions League final, he didn't
remember anything he had researched about his opponents.
"I still remember very clearly, I was working with my coach
Sepp Maier to figure out what all the players' tactics were. But
I forgot all about it. I went straight into a phase of absolute
concentration. I couldn't hear the crowd, the supporters
Cech said that too much fuss had been made about the
Jabulani ball whose flight and movement caused some wailing from
coaches and players at the start of the tournament, although
that criticism has died away in the last week.
"I have played with the ball and its fine. I didn't have a
problem," Cech said. "It is not the right attitude to blame it
on the ball. The ball is the same for everyone. It has been
tested the same way every time."
Kahn added: "The balls have changed over the last couple of
years, they have become a lot faster and in addition to that in
Johannesburg we are playing at an altitude of 1,700 meters,
which makes the ball even faster.
"The goalkeepers have to work harder, but I don't think that
we can take the ball or the altitude as excuses." he added.
Follow FFT.com on Twitter
Join FFT.com on Facebook
Bayern fans snap up 45,000 tickets to watch Champions League final live at Allianz Arena
When Sir Alex wakes up on Monday morning without team to manage, he will not be putting his feet up
Paris Saint-Germain midfielder announces he will be retiring at the end of the current season
Record goal-scorer signs a one-year contract extension with Europa League winners Chelsea
Ten years on, the legends speak to FFT
Your questions answered by an A to Z of legends
He's here, he's there, he's...
The cost of Premier League away travel
Nike CR7 IX for you
FourFourTwo is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media & FourFourTwo is part of Haymarket Sport
| International Licensing | © Haymarket Media Group 2010