Tackling is an art form. To perform the inch perfect tackle requires timing, commitment, speed and accuracy. If you manage to pull it off, it can mean the difference between a striker going clean through on goal, or being stopped in his tracks with the play switching to your team. However, in the heat of battle, with the blood rushing to your head, bad challenges can also cost you the game, as many players have found out. A rash challenge can earn you a straight red with further suspensions to follow and can be the difference between three points and none. But when a rash challenge is made in a match where the game is already over, or the result is no longer up for grabs, it can be a major headache for coaches who see valuable players ruled out for upcoming matches. Such an incident happened in the Israeli Premier League late last month.
With the game counting down and Hapoel Tel Aviv trailing local rivals, Bnei Yehuda, by two goals to one, most of the Hapoel players had given up hope of an equalizer. As they regained possession with less than 90 seconds left to play, a glimmer of hope filled the air as Hapeol’s captain Walid Badir raced up the park looking to find the pass that would set up a chance. Unfortunately, his pass was poor and it was intercepted on the half way line, setting up another chance for Bnei Yehuda. As Serbian striker Nenad Marinković sprinted down the left-wing, he was tracked all the way by Badir and fellow defender Kfir Eizenstein. With Badir unable to catch up to the speedy striker, it was left to Kfir to come across and make the tackle, preventing the striker from going through on goal. But Kfir was unprepared and frustrated as he stared defeat in the face. With a quick change of pace, Marinković switched gears in an effort to go past Eizenstein, only to be stopped in his tracks by a desperate lunge from the defender, which caught the striker on the ankle, sending him to the floor.
The referee had no choice but to send the player off with this crazy move, and as a result, saw him suspended for the next game. With the game already lost and nothing at stake, Hapoel manager Yossi Abukasis was bitterly disappointed with his young defender, as he had other options other than diving in for the tackle. He could have forced the player wide towards the corner flag and allowed other players to get back into position to prevent any other chances. Or he could have pulled the players shirt, earning him only a yellow, but still giving his teammates the chance to regroup. But instead, he lunged in, in what can only be described as a dangerous challenge, and one that Marinković was surely feeling days later. If Hapoel are to chase down league leaders Maccabi Tel Aviv, they will need to learn to maintain their discipline, time their tackles, and most importantly, stay on their feet.
To see the tackle, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_CHZFRGEZok