Tag Archives: Striker

False Nine

GW3ZleG

(False nine is a football/soccer deception tactic/strategy, where the main striker drops deep into midfield create confusions between opponent defenders whether to follow or mark him, thus creating opportunities for wingers or attacking midfielders to score. The name false nine derived as typically the No.9 awarded the position of main or centre forward but not actually playing this role in the field.

To keep it simple for football non-followers, it’s a ploy by the main striker to keep the opponent busy thinking he is the man to stop, but his team members grabbing that opportunity and score instead.)

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Rehman was sitting in the dressing room, its half time now. His team is behind 1 goal. The scoreboard is showing 0-1 after the intense 45 minutes.

He has past his glory days. Now he is just a 33 years old ‘once upon a time’ famous striker for his club, he is nothing but a shadow of himself. This whole season he is yet to score. Being a member of his football club for last 8 years, he hasn’t face such draught of scoring goals. Age is catching up with him, making him sluggish and blunt. There was a time when he was called ‘The Eagle’, where ever he was on the field his target was always the opponent goal post.

The new coach is kind to him. While he is giving chances to all new and young talents, he never side-lined Rehman, yet. Even he did not change his position from the centre forward. May be that is also his tactics. Like most of the games even in this match also he is playing his lone striker role.

 

Coach: “Boys we need to buckle up now. We just need a draw to reach the semi finale. Good news is we are lagging behind only 1 goal, and the bad news is we are behind. No matter how, we have to score in this half and also defend our post by any means. We will go in as 4-3-2-1 formation but slowly we will change into 4-3-3.

Gautam and Rudy will attack from left and right. I want Rehman to slide down time to time and make sure the ball supply is not cut off by their defenders, and yes at any opportunity Rajiv will make a run at their goal post, let them mark Rehman, he will make dummy runs at times. Rajiv you have missed two easy opportunities, if you miss another one, I’ll have your head.”

 

Rajiv, the 23 years old attacking midfielder, is the blue eyed boy of the current coach. He is young, fast and strong like an ox. This season he had already 4 goals in his name. He made his mark as a top notch game maker and also a scorer. Gautam and Rudy are the left and right wingers and they too have few goals under their names. Coach decided to play the false nine tactics to make the opponent guessing and the false nine is Rehman, he has clear instruction to give Rajiv and gautam more spaces to go on attack where he has to come down and keep the ball supply on.

Rehman let out long sigh, it’s very well might be the last season here for this club.

 

About 5 minutes to go for the 2nd half, Rehman was drinking water from the tap when he heard the voices from the next room

1st voice: “I don’t want to see those legs scoring a single goal in this match. I have promised Mr. Shastri that his club will win and go to semis. If even by mistake you score. I will cut off those legs and auction them.”

2nd voice: “Please Mr. Dhandhania, I won’t do a thing against your wish. But give another 1 month to pay you back, please…..”

 

With a palpitating heart and without a minute sound Rehman peeped inside the room, it’s the land shark Dhandhania talking to someone inside. Dhandhania is quite well known in the local football circuits. As most of the football players come from poor backgrounds, these loan sharks and betting skulls takes all the advantages of these poor players. They provide them loans in high interest rates and then make them puppets of their hands.

Many footballers career has been spoilt by these money lenders. Rehman was wondering who the other person inside the room with Dhandhania as he can’t clearly see. Dhandhania walked out of the room, followed by the player inside, it was Rajiv!!

In a flash Rehman remembered how Rajiv missed two easy chances in the 1st half, he was this close to put the ball behind the net and then he kicked it off the goalpost.

 

The whistle for the 2nd half is called, two teams were again up against each other. Rehman was keeping a close eye on Rajiv. The game was 73 minutes old when it happened.

A superb pass was made by Rudy to Rajiv, Rehman saw Rajiv making his move against the opponent goal post, as he dribbled and ran towards the goalkeeper and two other defenders, then the audiences and viewers of the ground witnessed something they never saw or heard before.

Rehman pushed down Rajiv and snatched the ball from Rajiv, probably the first time in the history of the game people saw the player snatching ball from his own teammate. Rehman dodged the defender and the advancing goalkeeper, confused the other defender by a left side run and then shoot the ball to his right. GOAL!!!!!! The spectators roared and stood up, bowed to the old magician of the game.

 

As the match ended 1-1, Rehman’s club easily moved to Semi-finals being ahead of numbers of goals scored. In the dressing room it was only Rehman and the coach standing.

Coach: “What was that all about?”

Rehman: “I got greedy coach, 5 games and no goal yet, I couldn’t control myself.

Coach: “You probably have to explain it to the management, where I see, your football career is over. I didn’t expect it from you. It’s a case of sheer disobedience and foolishness, you don’t make fouls against your own player and steal the ball from him….

 

As the coach walked out, Rajiv walked in…..

Rajiv: “Why?”

Rehman: ”I heard you and Dhandhania, couldn’t let you make the same mistake I have done years back.”

Rajiv’s broke down.

Rajiv: “You don’t have to do this, you don’t have to throw your career for me. The disciplinary action should have taken against me, not you.”

Rehman replied with a smile, “I am the false nine, remember?”

 

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Defender

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It turns out to be one of the worst days for Ron. First it was the stupid surprise chemistry test he had no clue about, and then he got the news that the first term of school test is preponed and when he was recovering from all these bad news he got the bummer. Sports teacher informed him this season he will play as a full back in the school football team, not in his usual position of the striker.

Ronojoy Sinha, student of 11st standard of a famous school of Kolkata loves his position as the key goal scorer in his school team. From 9th standard as he started to be the part of the soccer team he always played as the main striker. Mentored by his maternal uncle Surajit he loves putting the ball into the net, loves fooling and dodging the defenders and loves that helpless look at the face of the goal keeper when he scores.

“You will be playing as the right back, last season he didn’t even score a single goal and missed a dozens of chances, I should be putting you in bench but half of the boys are unfit. I need you there.” Sports teacher come coach of the Ron’s team barked.

“Let me at least play in the midfield, I never played as a defender, I will be useless there.” Angry and puzzled Ron replied.

Coach didn’t bother toreply rather he just shook his hand told him he is dismissed.

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In the dining table Ron was just playing with his food, he had no appetite. His Father Prasun was busy doing something in his laptop.

Ron’s father is quite strict; he never shared the enthusiasm of his son’s love and passion for Football. So when his brother in law Surajit was encouraging Ron to be a football player, he reluctantly agreed throwing a condition that it should not affect his studies. Surajit played for East Bengal, the famous club of Kolkata as a striker for more than 100 first division matches.

Ron’s father Prasun Sinha and his maternal uncle Surajit Ganguly shares a very awkward relation. They hardly speak to each other, always displeased to see the other’s presence and avoid bumping onto in any family ceremony. Ron hardly even saw them greeting each other during festivals or any other occasion. But there’s always an undercurrent between them, they don’t lose any chances to making twisted remarks or ridicule each other in a sublime way at any gathering.

Once Ron’s oldest aunt told him that uncle Surajit was dead against the marriage between his mom and dad, but as Sukriti wanted to marry only Prasun, other family members were fine with it, no one bothered about his opinion.

“What happened? You are not even touching your food. Anything wrong?” Ron almost felt he is waking up from sleep as he heard his father’s heavy voice.

Ron did not reply immediately. The father and son hardly discuss about his school or sports issues, as mostly they are handled by his mother Sukriti. But as his father continued to look at him with curiosity, he blurted his heart out.

“I’ve pushed to play as defender in my team, I hate that position, and I want to be a part of the action. I will hardly have a chance to even to score.” Ron was almost in tears while answering.

“So you think defenders are not part of the action, hmm?” As Prasun asked the question to his son, Ron couldn’t answer. He wasn’t sure what to answer.

“People come to the ground to watch spectacular goals or brilliant saves. A striker can be hero by scoring just one goal after missing chances after chances. A goal keeper can turn into match saver or a villain just by having a good or bad day. People remember the midfielders for their dazzling passes and assists for goals. But no one remembers how many times a defender clears the ball, snatches it from the opponents, blocking and blunting opponents advances.

They are remembered for foul, yellow and red cards, for hard tackling audiences blue eyed scorers. Thiago Silva,Mats Hummels, John Terry, Sergio Ramos, Diego Godin aren’t as celebrated as Neymar, Messi, Rooney or Ronaldo. But a true football lover knows their roles.”

Ron was looking at his father as Prasun was getting excited and emotional as he was carrying on with his speech.

Prasun continues, “At times people will remember defenders for pinning down their favorite strikers, intentional foul plays or disturbing the rhythm of the game by clearing the ball out of sidelines again and again. But son, we are the true heroes of the game, the true unsung heroes.” As he finished his last sentence his voice was shaking with passion and zeal.

Ron calmly asked his dad, “You were a football player weren’t you? Which position you used to play?”

“Central Defender, of Mohun Bagan.” Ron turned back at once and found his mom standing behind with a mischievous smile.

“Did you see him playing?” Ron threw his question to his mom as Sukriti was on her way back to kitchen again.

Sukriti’s voice floated in from the kitchen, “I was in 3rd year of my college, when I saw your dad playing against East Bengal, he did not let your uncle Surajit even pass through him.”

(The legendary rivalry between two of the oldest football of club of our country Mohun Bagan and East Bengal started way back in 1925 as for the first time the locked horns. Like all other delicacies in Kolkata like Hilsa and lobstar, rosogolla and misti doi, the people of this city also relishes the healthy competition of between these two clubs.

If Mohun Bagan supporters take pride of being the oldest Indian football club wining against British football teams, East Bengal supporters feel proud of wining the maximum match against them. The rivalry never gets old, even in the same family, few members might be the supporter of Mohun Bagan and few may be the East Bengal Enthusiast. The fun begins when ‘in-laws’ are fans of these two rivals. There are so many stories untold about this Kolkata Derby.)

The Goalkeeper

 

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* ‘Goalkeepers aren’t remembered for 100 brilliant saves but for one bad miss’ – Unknown*

My first love is always football. Being a 90’s kid, we grew up idolizing Ronaldo and Rivaldo from Brazil or Zinedine Zidane from France, even English footballer David Beckham. Though my hero was always Jose Luis Chilavert. The Paraguayan goalkeeper, who is a living legend in his country. The 2nd highest goal scorer as a goalkeeper. Yes! He not only saved goals but scored some.

Every rainy and winter season we used to have colonial football tournament. Where all we youngsters were taking parts from nearby colonies. We were ‘lane 5, Srinagar colony’ and our strict competitors were ‘lane 8’.

It also happened to be the lane where one of my best friend Ajay lived. He was truly a gifted player, with his awesome dribbling, dodging, ball control and shooting skills he already won this the trophy twice. He was their main striker. We were friends but in fields we were bitter rivals. I wasn’t too bad myself but he always got the better of me.

One fine day in the morning, just before few days of the next tournament Ajay came to me. After some small talks he said “I got a big favor to ask you”. “Ask for anything”, I replied.

“You know, I happened to like a girl in my physics tuition, so I followed her the other day and found she lives in lane 5. Do you know anything about her? Are you people friends?”

“Tell me more about her”, I asked curiously.

When he described her, I recall her being a neighbor but I never spoke to her or know her by any means. Her family moved in around a year back or so.

“I guess I know her”, I lied. “So what you want from me”, I was acting all innocent.

“I really really like her, if you could introduce us or something..” I could see he was almost begging to me and that was so against his aggressive nature.

“Alright, I can do that, but what do I get in return?”

“What do you want?”

“Well let’s see. How about not scoring a goal against our team, I mean not even a single one.”

“Impossible. Everybody will know it’s a got up case. Beside people know we are friends. I don’t score goals against you and people will know something fishy is going on”.

“You can pretend you are hurt, limp a little. Shoot the ball away from the goalpost, every player gets into bad patches every now and then, why you should be any exception?”

I could see his dilemma, his love for football and his teenage romantic heart.

“Alright, I will do it for you. But you have to promise you won’t let me down. And when you introduce me, make sure I make a good impression on her”

“Done deal”, I was grinning to myself.

Ajay kept his words and didn’t score a single goal on our first match against ‘lane 8’

Next few days as per my devious plan, I was ignoring him by all possible means, not returning his calls, avoiding him, asking mom not tell him I am at home etc etc.

We were doing really well in the tournament as the other teams were no so good and all set to get in to semi finals.

Just about two days before semis, once I returned from school, I found Ajay sitting on the drawing-room couch of my house.

“Hey there”, I greeted him with weak voice.

He got up and walked to me.

“I know why you did that”, I could see the fire in his eyes.

“I thought you are my friend”, I won’t lie, I felt kind of ashamed.

“I heard you people are in semis, well good luck, I will see you there”

“We are not playing you, we are playing ‘lane 2’ in semis”, I replied with feeble voice again

“Oh no, you are not, you are playing against us. One of the organizers of the tournament is a good friend of my dad and he owes him a favor. So you see, he made some last-minute arrangements.” He spoke those words so calmly and yet threateningly

“Be ready for half a dozen” he hissed.

Well I knew if he says half a dozen goals against us, he means it.

 

I immediately called our team captain and he called a team meeting.

“Bravo, you outsmarted yourself this time”, as the meeting started captain took a shot at me.

“I know I messed up, but I have a plan to stop Ajay”

“Yeah, let’s hear another of your crappy ideas”, captain was visibly angry.

“I don’t want to play as a goalkeeper in this match, make me the central defender. I have a plan”, I dropped the bomb, I knew I am the first goalkeeper, yet…

“That’s true”, captain blurted, “If he sees you under that goalpost he might want to make it a dozen”

“Exactly my point, also I know all his tricks, as a defender I can stop him.”

“What about our replacement goalkeeper, who would that be?” captain asked in an impatient voice.

“Don’t worry, I have that covered”. I told him.

 

When our match started, it was cloudy and cold, mid of July. We are about to play in 7-2-1 formation with 7 guys in defending position to stop Ajay. We all knew this was his game of vengeance.

When the game started, Ajay was playing in the fit of rage. He has been fouled twice by our players but seemed like nothing can stop him that day. I was shouting my lungs out to our player to contain him by any means necessary; even I hard tackled him few times.

“You will pay for this”, he hissed with his teeth clenched. We were wrestling to get the ball possession.

“Listen to me, I have something to tell you”, I hissed back while pulling his t-shirt in hope of somehow to get the possession back.

I found a way to kick the ball out of sideline. As the game started again, Ajay dodged three of our defenders and was charging at me like a mad bull. I looked back; behind me it was only the goalkeeper under the post and none other defender can be seen.

There’s no friend in battle field. I thought and I too ran at Ajay with all my might, thinking either I will tackle him down or he will knock me down. He dribbled and came in front of me, then he dodged me almost by a feet, I fell down, lying halfway on the grass, was watching hopelessly as Ajay was running like an express train at our goalpost. The young and new goalkeeper was watching with awe at us.

And then it happened. Almost a yard before the goalpost with the lanky, childlike goalkeeper standing clueless, he watched the football flying off 6 inches above the goalpost.

Ajay’s team mates were upset and angry, started hurling abuses at him for missing an easy chance but by then he started limping.

I smiled. Two days back when I offered the new goalkeeper position to our two years junior, apparently a non-member of our team, he was overjoyed and grabbed it with both hands.

“No way Ajay will score a goal against the brother of the girl he likes so much. Not at least when our goalkeeper’s sister is cheering her brother from sideline”, I told my captain when he was pulling me back on my feet in the ground.