April 16, 2015 By @frishee
Where do I start? I am tempted to start from the end of the match. In fact, that is exactly what I will do.
There I was standing on the touchline far away from the rest of the team and fans. The solitary stand was partly because I was recovering my lost nerves and partly because I wanted to be alone in a moment of gratitude. I looked up and saw the goalie being hoisted up in the air. He had saved a penalty that left the score at 4-2 in our favor. There was no need to take the fifth (my nerves were really thankful). And, we are in the finals.
I would describe to you the penalties but I never watch penalties when my team is taking them. All this started in the 1998 World Cup after I watched Brazil unfairly beat Netherlands. Netherlands had been the best team that night (and my team too thanks to the handsome looks of Patrick Kluivert and the ice look of Dennis Bergkamp). But Brazil won on penalties. I was inconsolable, and apparently damaged for life.
Anyway, as I heard, all the penalties the team took were excellent and all at the same spot. I would want to talk about probability but I don’t want to bore you. The game was a semifinal (refer to Match day 1 for details of the quarter final).
That second goal. At FT the game was 2-2. However, five minutes before FT we were 2-1 down. We had scored first through a penalty. (The right back is our first choice penalty taker and he buried that). Of course I did not see it. However, the opponents equalized barely five minutes later and were ahead before half-time. We turned it up in the second half and dominated most of it but it seemed our luck in front of goal was bad. However, like five minutes before the end of the 90, we got a free kick at the edge of the box on the right hand side. Ideally, this is supposed to be taken by a left footer who will swing it out. So here comes the problem: the only left footed player in the team is the left back and he is also the best header of a ball in the team. Does he take the free-kick or does he stay in the box to hang. The lads opted for the later. So the right winger lines the ball up and takes an in swinger with his right foot all the way to the best header of the ball and all the way to the back of the net. 2-2. So a goal from the right back and a goal from the left back give us a fighting chance. After 4 minutes the game was going to penalties. (The league has no extra time for reasons unknown to me.)
The penalty takers were decided. Mostly by the players volunteering themselves and we won the coin toss which meant we were taking the first penalty. (Statistically, the team that takes the first penalty has a higher chance of winning the shoot-out. In fact, penalty experts say that the penalty shoot-out is won at the coin-toss)
As the right back started the long and lonely walk to take the penalty, I turned and faced the bushes. Shaking like there was an earthquake on the land I was crouching on and I plugged my ears but the shouting of the fans was too loud and I knew the first one was in. After the first 2 penalties, it was 2-2. We put in our third and the goalie got their third, we put in our fourth and the goalie got their fourth. 4-2 the final result and on to the finals we come. Till next time, enjoy yourself.