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14.06.2007 General News

The Kick Of Death

Originally nicknamed the 'kick of death', the penalty kick was introduced in 1891. It has created more drama and controversy than any other aspect of the game.

A penalty is an outstanding opportunity to score, as the taker is one-on-one with the goalkeeper and all the other players are outside the penalty area.

In certain situations, the referee can order the kick to be retaken if the taker misses but a defender entered the area before the kick, for example.

Penalty takers must hit the ball forward and cannot make contact with the ball again until it has touched another player.

Some penalty takers favour accuracy over power, aiming the ball low into the corner of the goal; others blast the ball. For the keeper, trying to figure out where the ball will go is a guessing game.

Penalty shoot-outs

Tense and nail-biting, a penalty shoot-out is guaranteed to bring fans to the edge of their seats. Professional football's first shoot-out took place in England in 1970.

In a shoot-out, five players per side are chosen to take one penalty each, all at one end of the pitch. A shoot-out is not considered to be part of the actual match, meaning that a goal is not added to a player's season or career tally.

Neither penalty takers nor team-mates are allowed to score from a re bound (to fly back after hitting something) – each player has just one shot at glory. The keeper knows this and often does his or her best to intimidate a penalty taker.

If the scores are level after each team has taken five penalties, the competition goes into sudden death.

Teams take one penalty each until one side misses and the other scores. On the rare occasion that all the players on the pitch, including the goalkeepers, have taken a penalty and the scores are level, the cycle begins again in the same order.

Does this ever happen? Occasionally and spectacularly. In 2005, in the Namibian Cup, 48 penalties were needed to separate KK Palace from Civics, with several players taking three penalties each.

Credit: Football Encyclopedia