FIFA World Cup: 5 questions with Craig Forrest

Former Canadian national team and EPL goalkeeper Craig Forrest knows what it's like to play in high-pressure situations. He answers five questions.

Former Canadian national team goalkeeper gives insight on penalties

Julio Cesar of Brazil makes a stop during his team's shootout against Chile in the FIFA World Cup Round of 16. The pressure is all on the penalty taker, says former Canadian keeper Craig Forrest. (Sergio Perez/Reuters)

The pressure on the players at the FIFA World Cup is starting to ramp up with some of the matches being decided on penalties. Former Canadian national team and West Ham goalkeeper Craig Forrest knows what it's like to play in these situations. He answers five questions.

1. How does a goalkeeper view the game differently from a player in another position?

The main difference is that a keeper has to let things happen — you can't make things happen.

2. How did you approach penalty kicks when you played? Can you give an example of how you'd seek intelligence on which way a shooter would go?

There's no pressure. All of the pressure is on the shooter. Intel on players isn't always easy because many aren't regular penalty takers for club sides or country. Their approach to taking the shot may indicate which way they'll go.

3. What did you think of Louis van Gaal's decision to put his backup Tim Krul in for the kicks against Costa Rica? 

The decision was brave but calculated. Krul is good at penalties. He's big and is arguably their best keeper. But it was more of a psychological move in my opinion. Putting a seed in the heads of the Costa Ricans. The downside would be Krul hadn't seen a shot since warmup — although you could argue that neither did the starter — and his sharpness and depth perception wouldn't be what it should be. It all worked out fine, though.

4. Do you think it's easier for keepers to intimidate shooters or for shooters to get in the heads of keepers?

The pressure is all on the penalty taker. The pressure in different stages varies greatly, too. If the taker is shooting to win the shootout, 93 per cent will score. If the taker is shooting to stay in or else be eliminated, only 43 per cent will score. Overall, 71 per cent will score, historically. Keepers know this or should. Those stats are from over the course of World Cup penalty shootouts, not obviously from in-game penalties.

5. We've seen some great goalkeeping, including American Tim Howard's sterling performance against Belgium. What to do make of the goalkeepers so far in the World Cup?

The standard of keepers varies greatly but over all I think it's been excellent. Ochoa (Mexico), Neuer (Germany), Navas (Costa Rica), Cesar (Brazil), Enyeama (Nigeria), Howard (USA), Lloris (France) — to mention a few — have been exceptional. It's interesting that two of the semifinalist keepers weren't starting for clubs that own them. Argentina's Romero very rarely played at Monaco and Cesar of Brazil couldn't get into a second-tier English side at Queen's Park Rangers, so he came to Toronto to get into matches. Unlike club football, a team just can't go and buy a keeper, you have to use what you have.


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