The water bottle that Egypt goalkeeper Gabaski used to study penalty takers in the Africa Cup of Nations final has been uncovered – and it contains some interesting information.
On February 6, Egypt and Senegal collided at the Paul Biya Stadium in Cameroon for the most prestigious honour in the continent. Following a tightly contested 120 minutes, neither team could find that all-important goal to break the deadlock.
That meant one thing—a penalty shootout. The Pharaohs had experienced one shootout already in the tournament. They got the better of Cameroon in the semi-finals.
For the weeks leading up to a tournament, the players work tirelessly to prepare for such a situation. But one player took his revision even more seriously than you’d expect.
Egypt vs Senegal goes the distance
The dreaded series of spot-kicks put the Senegalese into unknown territory. They hadn’t participated in a shoot out in the competition, which gave the Egyptians a mental edge.
Their keeper, Gabaski, stole the show by saving two of Cameroon’s penalties in the semi-final. It was reported afterwards that was studied every single player’s preferred placement using a water bottle. He had all the necessary details to help him decide which way to dive.
However, in the shootout, he couldn’t quite repeat his heroics of the semi-final. The 33-year-old did dive the right way to deny Bayern Munich‘s Bouna Sarr.
But despite his save, Egypt couldn’t capitalise and lost the dreaded shootout 4-2, which crowned Senegal the Africa Cup of Nations champions.
A distraught Gabaski left the field of play devastated. He had nothing on his mind aside from the heartbreaking defeat his country had just sustained. So it’s perhaps no surprise that he forgot to take his precious water bottle with him.
Following the fixture, the drinking apparatus was found, and as reports suggested, all the details were there.
As you can see, there was information for every possible penalty taker printed on the water bottle. There are circles representing where each player prefers to place their penalties, and whether they have scored or missed in the past. It is incredibly detailed – and it is a tactic that very nearly landed Egypt the ultimate prize.
Have other goalkeepers utilised this tactic before?
Tim Krul also took advantage of this trick in a fifth round FA Cup tie against Tottenham Hotspur in 2020. The Dutchman’s star performance saw Norwich advance to the next round of the competition, dumping Spurs out in the process.
Ultimately ‘the water bottle tactic’ hasn’t been stopped by the authorities. So we’ll likely see even more keepers finding ingenious ways of assistance when it comes to penalty shootouts in the future.
Featured Image Credit: Getty