Perfecting the Dead Ball
Commonly known as Pepe Reina (his preferred nickname), or Jos Reina. He is a Spanish goalkeeper. Image Source: soccer-europe.com

Perfecting the Dead Ball


Is this something that will help our African representatives?

By Lambert Rusoke
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First published: June 10, 2006


There is unlikely to be a change to the names written against the Jules Rime trophy when this year's finals kick off in Germany. Uruguay, Italy, Germany, Brazil, England, Argentina and France are the only nations to have scooped FIFA's greatest accolade. Brazil of course does remain the overwhelming favorites considering their record of five championships, coupled with such an endless supply of fantastic talent.

The remaining 31 teams trek to Germany to stop such a trend from continuing, and as they strategize on how to take on their opponents basing on the strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats(SWOT) hypothesis, there is one aspect that should not elude all managers' minds- perfecting the dead ball.

The dead ball consists of situations like corner kicks, free kicks, goal kicks and penalties. These are occasions that never go amiss in a game of football. It's for this very reason that critical attention is paid to such, to reap the benefits that can accrue from here in. Certainly, all teams in Germany possess, within their ranks, a dead ball specialist- someone they believe can deliver that ball to fruition. And no wonder many teams, after a round of training sessions, indulge themselves in a series of practicing free kicks how to defend them, and how to utilize the resulting ball from the set pieces while in the opposition six yard box.

This kind of feat can win a game of football.

All the groups have different teams from different continents and therefore the style of play will differ. But some of the style of a particular continent is better compared to others. Take the case of the silky passing skills of the South Americans to the physical approach employed by Africans teams. For if the latter warranted adopting to the style of play of the former, it could spell trouble. So for safety purposes, if the Africans were to counter the play of the Americans, it could be a matter playing their own game style and then capitalizing on the dead ball situations- like using their aggression in winning those aerial balls from corner kicks, or even a flick on from the big strikers off a long taken free kick. This will definitely disrupt the style of the opposing team.

Germany may not possess the best talent on show, but one of their strong points is perfecting the dead ball. And in Michael Ballack, they have a prize in delivering that ball, with Klose or Huth on the receiving end. England could miss the services of Wayne Rooney, but may not suffer from goal droughts because David Beckams' specialty in delivering that dead ball. Lampard and Gerard could come up with their power shots as well.

Talking Brazil, we have Juninho Pernambuco-he has long range and barely believable free kicks and yet can only muster a place on the bench. But even then Ronaldhino and Adriano can say something about it. Argentina can savour from Juan Roman Riquelm, France have Zidane Henry. And so do all the other teams, who have players that can really bend that dead ball. It's their obligation to see to it that such an opportunity is put to use.

When it comes to penalties, this being a knockout tournament, there could be possibilities of post match penalties. This is where goalkeeper's performance has to be judged. Teams that boast of goalkeepers that have managed to save as many penalties in their carriers, have something to smile about. I won't be surprised if Pepe Reina came on for Spain to do what he does best- saving from the spot.

Its for this reason that teams who don't perfect the dead ball may find the going in Germany tough, as world defenses have improved. This in particular is characteristic of the five African representatives.

By Lambert Rusoke
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First published: June 10, 2006
Lambert Rusoke is a student at Makerere University Business School.
rlamptey2003@yahoo.com.