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BN Brazil 2014 Updates with Adeola Omitiran: Mind Games & Tactics



The Netherlands coach, Louis van Gaal, has been praised for his tactically sound decision to replace Jasper Cillessen in the 120th minute of their game in favour of the slightly taller Tim Krul. Krul then went on make two saves which helped the Dutch reach the semi-finals.

For a goalie whose penalty-saving record is not actually that great, keeping out just two of the 20 he has faced in the past five years, it showed the kind of faith Van Gaal had in him. Perhaps his decision was rooted in something Krul has been doing right in training sessions.

Noticeably, the Newcastle United goalie approached each penalty taker and not only stared them down, but preyed on their nerves by yelling at each man that he knew which way they were going to go. Even after one of the penalties went in, Krul continued to hit the message home and tried to make each player aware that he knew their thoughts.

Call it mind games, psychic ability or trying to get the job done, Krul guessed right on each occasion. With even the penalties that went in grazing the goalkeeper’s fingertips (he didn’t take the approach of waiting until the kick was taken before moving to guess) it is highly unlikely that his actions did not at least have an effect on the penalty takers.

Krul took advantage of the old cliché that says, there is comparatively little pressure on the goalkeeper because they are not expected to save penalties, but the takers are very much expected to score them. Even though he came on specifically for the penalties, he took the pressure off himself and transferred it to the Costa Rican players.

Louis van Gaal is, however, not the only coach to make tactically sound decisions in the tournament so far. We had the likes of 64-year-old Jose Pekerman (a former taxi driver), who led the Colombians to a dream tournament at the World Cup – despite seeing their dreams dashed by hosts Brazil in the quarter-finals. Miguel Herrera (Mexico’s coach), who managed to overturn one of the darkest periods in Mexican football in a matter of months and got them to the round of 16. Jorge Luis Pinto (Costa Rica) gave opportunities to the likes of Joel Campbell to unleash their prowess in Brazil and bowed out in the quarter finals having conceded only two goals and without losing a game (in open play). Finally, Stephen Keshi (let’s be patriotic) he tried his best for team Nigeria, though he made some mistakes along the line, the Eagles still made it past the group stage.

Did I leave anyone out?
Photo Credit: Michael Steel | Getty Images

Omitiran Adeola is a BSC Graduate in Mass Communications with news, sports & lifestyle journalism experience for over 3 years. As an avid lover of sports, she is living her dream of keeping the football world on its feet.


  1. @edDREAMZ

    July 7, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    Vangaal will sure do some magic in man u bcos we are seeing some prove here but i will want argentina to win though…..

  2. Idak

    July 7, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    It was more of a psychological move than plain old tactics. The Costa Ricans were playing for penalties from the first minute of the match. They had a 100% record in shoot outs (played one and won one),while the Dutch had an abysmal record and dreaded penalties.
    LVG being a man with a balls of steel decided to surprise them. They obviously must have studied videos showing how hopeless Cillessen is with penalties. Krul is not much better but the unknown quantity created doubts in the minds of the Costa Ricans and as they say, the rest is history.
    I think this sub-plot will find its way to Game theory classes in Business Schools in the coming years.

    • Anon

      July 7, 2014 at 7:56 pm

      Krul did better than Cillessen in training while saving penalties. Also in match 52 – Costa Rica versus Greece, he correctly predicted all of Costa Rica’s penalties. They scored 5.

  3. Ifeanyi

    July 7, 2014 at 6:30 pm

    Nigerians Eh…Na wa Ohhh

    ”…I think this sub-plot will find its way to Game theory classes in Business Schools in the coming years…”

    @Idak…the sub-keeper has probably done better during training…and Louis Van Gaal banked on the experience of His takers…RVP, Sneidjer, Kurt and Robben…cos the extra confidence is really needed…

    Nothing miraculous…Nothing would find its way into the Game Theory classes in Business School…there are no dominant strategy here neither is there a ‘Nash Equilibrum’…

    • Anon

      July 7, 2014 at 7:59 pm

      Touche Ifeanyi. Also, subbing a keeper for another keeper for penalties has been done before in the English League. It’s just been highlighted now because it was in the World Cup.

    • Idak

      July 7, 2014 at 8:17 pm

      Krul was not substantially better in penalties. he has an abysmal record in penalties and LVG himself confirmed.that it was just an act to unsettle the seemingly confident Costa Ricans.
      The Business School talk was obviously talk in cheek and an attempt at sarcasm. Pls don’t be too stiff.

    • Idak

      July 8, 2014 at 7:14 am

      Tongue in cheek.

    • Idak

      July 8, 2014 at 7:19 am

      He was not banking on any confidence of his takers. The Dutch were weary of penalties and we’re willing to avoid it all all cost. Their records in it at the WC and Euros is very poor and such psychological baggage plays on the minds of even the greatest players. The willingness and confidence of the Costa Ricans to play for the penalties from the start of the game must have even impacted the Dutch more,hence the Krul gamble to mess with the minds of the Costa Ricans.

    • Anon

      July 8, 2014 at 9:19 am

      Again, Krul did better in training. Abysmal record belongs to Cillesen over Krul who had saved two.

  4. babygiwa

    July 7, 2014 at 6:58 pm

    LVG has guts of steel, he made the right decision for them. I agree with Idak, the Costa Ricans played for penalties from the very first minute and I am sure they did that because of the Dutch’s unlucky history of PKS. I’m happy the Oranje boys went thru, they worked for it. #MUFC

  5. babygiwa

    July 7, 2014 at 6:58 pm


  6. Anon

    July 7, 2014 at 8:07 pm

    You left out Joachim Low. Never smiles, loves his fringe, fitted shirts and eating his bogey. Using 4 centre backs at the back hasn’t caused too many problems. Howedes and Boateng have been used as full backs but are centre backs. It was just in their game against France that Lahm came back as a full back when Per “BFG” was dropped. German efficiency

  7. lilian

    July 7, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    Van gaal tried but my prayer is for Argentina to win the world cup this year.I am a Barcelona fan and I’m rooting for lionel messi.

  8. Tosin

    July 8, 2014 at 7:52 am

    On the new BN design: guess I’m not good with change, I’m like eeeew, what happened to the layout I understood? Maybe I’ll get used to this one someday. I do like the font style 🙂

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