If Colombia have one problem at the FIFA World Youth Championship Netherlands 2005, it's finishing teams off.

In their three group games, they wasted no time in showing off their skills and talents straight away, but seemed to take an eternity to score the goals that would bring them victory… something that may prove costly when it comes to the knock-out phase.

What if their opponents hold out for a draw and take them to a much-dreaded penalty shoot-out?

To witness whether they are geared up for the challenge of spot-kicks - and also to test one of the great unproven theories in modern-day football - FIFA.com conducted a highly unscientific experiment with the Colombians ahead of the second round match.

Pundits are fond of saying that if a goalkeeper just stood in the middle of his goal for a penalty shoot-out and didn't dive, he would probably save at least one of them because players are often prone to fire it straight down the centre, rather than risk going for the corners.

So, FIFA.com tried to see if that's true by offering up a reasonably static goalkeeper to face five penalties by Colombia to find out what would happen.

It should be said immediately that the goalie in question falls firmly into the Under 40 age bracket who, in terms of class, is more Oliver Hardy than Oliver Kahn, but that wasn't supposed to be the point. If you just stand still and try to block the shot, there will be no problem… right?

Well, not quite. 

The problem with the theory occurs when the Colombians take it upon themselves to come up with a question of their own: What happens when you kick the ball as hard as you can directly at the goalkeeper… will he try to get out of the way?

Youth was to prove the master over 'experience' in this respect. 

First up was Radamel Garcia… scorer for Colombia against Canada and scorer against FIFA.com as he made the 'keeper look like a prize idiot standing dead still in the middle of the goal as the ball sailed past him to the left.

Perhaps sensing the goalkeeper's plan to stand exactly where he is, or indeed deciding it would be much better fun anyway, the Colombians duly fired in the next three penalties straight down the middle at an incredibly frightening pace.


Dayro Moreno put so much power into his shot that he got airborne. One got the impression it was perhaps less important to score than it would be funny to make this crazy goalkeeper's head come off and Moreno came closest to succeeding in that regard, but he scored nonetheless.

One of the coaching staff offered this helpful, but grave advice: "Listen man, I think you'd better move…"

But that would spoil the experiment and Juan Carlos Toja was already running in to take (and pathetically easily score) his penalty so it was too late to change anyway.

However, there was a lot of time for contemplation as Fredy Guarin walked back to take a scarily long run-up for his spot-kick. Perhaps some wobbly legs a la Liverpool's Jerzy Dudek might do the trick, but the man who has struck twice from 30 yards at Netherlands 2005 is just as deadly from the penalty spot and this time FIFA.com was obliged to stand aside in the interests of personal safety.

This wasn't going according to plan.

Concerned that he did not want to give away the penalty-taking secrets of his team and also to spare the life (and embarrassment) of FIFA.com's goalkeeper, Colombia coach Eduardo Lara insisted on having the last word, taking the final penalty himself.

Opting for precision instead of the full-on blast technique of his young players, Lara fired low to the goalkeeper's left, but the result was just the same and he was wreathed in smiles as the ball hit the back of the net.

When the opportunity arose to grab a late consolation, FIFA.com jumped at it and gave Libis Arenas his goalkeeper's gloves back by stepping up to take a penalty in reply.

In the interests of fairness, the only way it could go was hard and straight - though much less lethal than the Colombian efforts - and there was a split-second of joy in watching Arenas guess wrong and dive to his right.
 
Arenas had the last laugh though as he simply reached back one of his incredibly long arms and palmed the ball away anyway.

A humiliating result then, but perhaps not entirely unexpected.

The only real lesson to be learned is: Unless you're brave enough to take a ball full in the face at what seems like 500 mph, don't offer to go in goal in the first place.

Final score:
Colombia 5-0 FIFA.com