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World Cup 2014 comment: Referees should stop Tim Krul like mind-games during penalties

The Netherlands keeper put his Costa Rican opponents off during the quarter-finals

Penalties, as everyone knows, are not a lottery but a test of skill under pressure. In Saturday’s quarter-final shoot-out against Costa Rica, Tim Krul, the Netherlands goalkeeper, did more than guess which way to dive for the penalties. He told the takers what they were going to do too.

The Costa Rica players had been running around in the heat for two hours, trying to repel a superior and more experienced Dutch side. Krul had spent two hours on the bench. He was fresher, physically and mentally, and leveraged that advantage against his drained opponents.

Krul told Bryan Ruiz, the Costa Rica captain, he knew the kick would go to his left. It did and Krul saved it. When Michael Umana stepped up to take the fifth kick, Krul was so inside his opponents’ heads that Umana shot tamely to the left of Krul, who saved comfortably.

By sledging the Costa Rican penalty takers, Krul was maximising his chances of being on the winning team. But referee Ravshan Irmatov could have stopped him.

Krul’s mind games were not as bad as Brazil’s tackling against Colombia, but they were not that sporting either, adding an unfair extra element to Costa Rica’s difficulties.


If there is a penalty shoot-out in the final three games – and the chances are high – the referee should take a stronger stand.