FOOTBALL

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The team has been restructured. And to everyone’s surprise, he has been brought to forward position straight from deep defence. After he scored two unbelievable goals in a match with such a spirited game rushing out from defence position that the trainer was deeply convinced that if there is one player in the present combination capable to pierce the virtual wall of the goalkeeper, it is he.

The match between Sundance Club and Sunrise Club has been arranged to be the last match of the league in the fixtures so as to keep everyone riveted. The coach would arm him with a unique tip for that match.

To bring him to forward position was an inspired move of the coach. Now he is not only the most popular player among the supporters of Sundance Club, he is also the top scorer of the league. But the last match of the league holds the key – both the teams are at the top slot with equal points. Whichever team wins would be the league champion. But if it is drawn, then Sunrise Club will retain the trophy as it is leading in goal average. The officials are losing sleep over it. The coach is confident. But everything depends on him – the contest is between his fierce shot and the virtual impregnable wall of the opponent goalkeeper. But he is in superb form. And his confidence is in a new high.

The coach speaks in a mixed language of Assamese and English, ‘I have taken you under my wings. You have to keep the honour of the club and my prestige’. The coach has managed to collect about five hundred video footage of the rival custodian’s earlier matches. He has watched it from different angles, zoomed it to look closely, in slow motion. Feeding all these information he has simulated an imaginary game in the computer and tried many permutations and combinations. The coach asked the player: ‘See, every player, however strong he is, has a weak side. Have you ever pondered about what could be weakness of the custodian of Sunrise Club’? He never bothered to think in that angle. Now it has dawned on him that football is not just a game of the feet but of the brain too’. Observing his silence the coach said, ‘There it is! Use your head. His only weakness is over-confidence. Ok now, say, what is the USP of his success’? He thought, yes, I know that. So said, ‘His grip, his height, his agility, his nimble feet like a classic dancer’. The coach said, ‘Ok, these are definitely indicative of his expertise. But his biggest asset is his anticipation. The ability to understand within split second time where the shot would be coming. That is a sign of a great goalkeeper. As the scorer readies the shot he correctly anticipates where the shot is headed to. But there is a chink in his armour, do you know that’?

Chink in his armour? He could not comprehend and so kept mum. The coach said, ‘Look, my boy, you have to use your head. Have a look into these footage in slow motion’. After watching about fifteen such videos, a streak of light appeared to have illuminated his though process. He nearly shouted his finding, ‘He positions himself slightly towards right of the goalpost. But changes the position as the attacker takes the shot’. The coach smiled in appreciation and said, ‘Well, well. Now you have learnt to use the head. He does not consciously take the slightly rightward shifted position. His right hand is stronger. And instinctively he shifts towards right. But his feet are incredibly nimble and he can correctly assess the spot the ball is coming by watching the attacker’s feet. Now your job is to utilise the chance offered by this little weakness. You are to assess his anticipation in advance and got to deceive him, and all this has to be done in that final split second. And you’d need superb control over the ball for that. I have observed, you can shoot equally well with both your feet. But in important matches you prefer to take shots with right foot. You lack confidence on this foot though you can shoot with equal power and accuracy. Practice my dear, practice hard. As part of the game plan, most of the shots you’d take in that game with your right foot. You’d reserve your left leg for that one shot, with which you’d pierce through the defence of the rival custodian to score. I have termed him over confidant. He’d anticipate the powerful shot of your right foot. But allowing him no time to notice and react, you’d shift the shot to your left feet and complete the shot in one single motion. I am sure, you can defeat him’.  [Continued]


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