The Agony & Ecstasy of the Penatly Kick Shootout

February 17, 2012


When Andres Iniesta scored against the Netherlands in the 2010 World Cup Final, I felt a measure of relief. Not because I was supporting Spain necessarily, but because it meant the most important match in sport likely wouldn't need to be decided by the dreaded penalty kick shootout.


Final matches decided by PKs seem to somehow lack legitimacy; like many I've long felt that France had a better side than Italy in the 2006 World Cup Final and deserved to win that match. Penalty kick shootouts are an almost seperate sport, distinctly lacking the passing, coordination and teamwork that make the sport so brilliant to watch.


When compared to the larger world of media options, the sheer, white-knuckle drama and unpredictability of a PK shootout is hard to beat, though. This couldn't have been illustrated better than in last week's final match in the African Cup of Nations between heavily-favored Ivory Coast and underdog Zambia. A tournament, it should be noted, that many soccer-watchers have called the best, most roundly-entertaining overall national football tournament of the past several years - that includes the last World Cup and the 2011 Copa America.


And it all came down to PKs, of course. This is one of the best 17-minutes of sport I've seen in the last couple years. Some highlights:


  • No-name Zambia, star-packed Ivory Coast
  • Zambia's preening French manager
  • Ivory Coast's expressionless manager
  • Zambian goalie taking a PK
  • Goalies exchanging a sportsmanlike handshake
  • Zambian players singing and praying
  • Definitive shots in the roof of the net
  • Kolo Toure's absurdly long run-up
  • A striker, Gervino, wearing #10 for his country, waiting until late in the order to shoot...
  • Etcetera


I strongly recommend going fullscreen for this one. Enjoy.


— Andrew Bangs