Goalkeepers are becoming more “attack minded”, as the ongoing FIFA World Cup shows.
On average, goalkeepers are playing one metre higher up the pitch.
With just eight matches remaining of the 64-game schedule, FIFA statistics also show that “goalkeepers have become an extra outfield player” as they have received a pass 726 times during the group stage, as opposed to only 443 at the last World Cup.
In a recent press conference, FIFA Technical Study Group’s Arsene Wenger said he believes young goalkeepers would increasingly be required to establish themselves as outfield players before switching to the goalposts permanently.
A former goalkeeper, Datuk Richard Scully, has kept a close eye on the World Cup and said he was delighted to see goalkeepers getting more involved in the action.
“This is modern football. Goalkeepers no longer stay in the six-yard or 12-yard box,” said Scully, vice president of the Football Coaches Association of Malaysia.
“These days, teams push up higher than before. The goalkeeper plays the role of a defender coming out from the penalty box.
He added that in modern football, such is expected of a goalkeeper as teams play high and wide.
“So, if a keeper stays inside the box, it provides space and time for the attacking team. You will be on the losing end.
“Football has evolved, and goalkeepers are pushing up to be ‘fifth defenders’ and being more involved in matches.”
Separately, Scully feels Morocco’s Yassine Bounou is easily the tournament’s top custodian.
Sevilla’s Bounou, 31, broke Spanish hearts by saving penalties from Sergio Busquets and Carlos Soler, and seeing Pablo Sarabia hit a post as Morocco won 3-0 on penalties to progress to the knockout stage.
Abdelhamid Sabiri, Hakim Ziyech and Achraf Hakimi scored for the Atlas Lions.
“Bounou has been almost unbeatable between the sticks. Morocco has conceded just once in Qatar – an own goal,” said the Penang-born Scully.
“I loved the way Morocco played against Spain. It knew it could not match the Spaniards in terms of skill, so it stifled and strangled their playing style and brought them down to their level.
“It may not make for good football for the neutrals, but it was a good technical and tactical game.”
After a two-day break, the World Cup resumes tonight with the quarterfinals.
The first match is between Brazil and Croatia at 11pm, followed by the Netherlands versus Argentina tomorrow morning (3am).
The winners of that tie face each other in the semifinals on Wednesday morning.
In the other half of the draw, Morocco plays Portugal tomorrow (11pm), while defending champion France meets England (Sunday, 3am).