But… which way to go?
There really isn’t a guidebook on how to take penalties, but, throughout history, footballers all over the world have come up with enough ideas to fill several volumes: to the left, to the right, straight down the middle, through the roof, and with varying degrees of elevation and/or power.
Yet if there were any such catalogue — call it Penalty 101 or Penalties for Dummies — Accra Hearts of Oak striker Victor Aidoo’s preferred approach would likely be the very first entry, considering just how very basic it is.
On a weekend when former Spain international Santi Cazorla caught the eye with the deftest of panenkas in Qatari outfit Al Sadd’s league defeat of Al Gharafa, Aidoo blasted his way through a penalty — and not for the first time this season.
Hearts, in a crunch Ghana Premier League Week 18 game against reigning champions Aduana Stars, were awarded a penalty when Patrick Razak — who else? — was obstructed by defender Abdulai Nurudeen.
When the two sides met earlier this term in the postponed season opener, Hearts got handed another spot-kick, near the very end of a game they were already losing, to score a consolatory goal.
Left-back Raddy Ovouka took it, opting to place the ball at a height and with such intensity that enabled goalkeeper Joseph Addo to make a rather comfortable save.
And, with that, the responsibility was passed on to teammate Umar Manaf Gumah Jr, who made a scoring start in the very next game, away to Kumasi King Faisal.
But Manaf’s own style — cavalier, seemingly — failed to nail the role down very long, and, following a miss against Legon Cities in February, Aidoo picked up the baton.
His assignment in the reverse against Aduana was the former Samartex man’s third, and Aidoo struck the ball the same way he did the previous two (a little over a month ago, against Ebusua Dwarfs): with an unrestrained ferocity that is as much a threat to the goalkeeper as it is to the net — and to the same, almost inevitable end.
Ordinarily, a penalty-taking technique as unfussy and unfancy as Aidoo’s shouldn’t generate the reaction it has, yet the media and general fandom could be pardoned for making more of it than is necessary.
This, remember, is a country that has come up short on quite a few occasions when results of international football games have hinged on scoring one spot-kick or more. Hence, if any player shows they can do it right — never mind that they’ve only done it thrice in the top-flight — it sure feels like a great deal.
So, then, let’s hold Aidoo up as such: a sensation, a specimen, a model worth studying and emulating, for there couldn’t be a simpler — or surer — way of converting a penalty.
And with the zippy, nifty Razak always proving a handful, especially after he gets into the box, Aidoo certainly won’t run out of opportunities to remind us of how it’s done.
Yaw Frimpong — Ink & Kicks