Monday, 6 August 2012

GB Experience Future Penalty Lesson

Stuart Pearce was right to comfort his Team GB footballers for the wealth of experience that have gained at these Olympic Games, despite their penalty shoot-out defeat to Korea, last weekend.

The manner of their loss will only come to aid the players when they suffer the same outcome at major tournaments later in their career.

At the end of a dogged encounter at the Millennium Stadium, the scores were tied at 4-4 when Daniel Sturridge stepped up to take GB’s final spot kick. The striker nailed his run-up but could do nothing to prevent goalkeeper, Lee Bumyoung, parrying the strike.

Sturridge and his GB team-mates looked drained and dejected on the Cardiff turf, yet penalty shoot-out deflation will not come as a surprise for these players, but in fact act as a chilling memory for when they suffer the same fate later on in their international careers.

For the England national side are notoriously appalling at penalties. In eight shoot-outs, England have won just one, against Spain during Euro ’96. GB’s current stars will have grown up with England’s recent penalty heartbreaks: 1998 defeat to Argentina and successive 2004 and 2006 losses to Portugal.

Indeed, England’s most recent shoot-out failure against Italy only this summer should have acted as a precursor for last Saturday’s game. Like Italy, Korea dominated large spells of the match and were guilty of not winning the tie in normal time. GB just about scraped into the shoot-out, where they once more fell at the last.

What Pearce’s men can gain from this experience is simply the knowledge of what it feels like to crash out on penalties the next time it comes around, a feeling that supporters placing an England or Premier League bet will have experienced before.

Sturridge, along with successful penalty converters, Tom Cleverley and Craig Dawson, will no-doubt one day be thrown back into this tortuous situation in England colours. Their experience this summer will do nothing but strengthen their fear on that long walk to the penalty spot.