Are England the worst team for taking penalties?

Taken from the Daily Mirror

If you are an England supporter over a certain age then you will probably have no hesitation in saying yes to that particular question. 1990, 1996, 1998, 2004, 2006 and now 2012 are all tournament years that do not hold fond memories for England as they have exited from the competition due to their inability to score from the spot. 

The one crumb of comfort is they did win a shoot-out in 1996 in Spain, but that is the only time they have tasted success.

You would think that record would be hard to beat, and in reality it is, although Romania have a zero success rate in penalties, but have only been involved in two so far, Holland are marginally better with just the once success against four failures. 

Even Italy who for so long were cruelly defeated from 12 yards have finally come to their senses and started to record some success at spot kicks, so England, with their 14% success rate are indeed the worst team at international tournaments when it comes down to penalties, and watching their elimination against Italy this week, you would hardly be confident that their luck is about to change any time soon

Alarmingly their poor record is not the worst for a national side. Taking the dubious crown away from the Three Lions is African side Malawi. Their tales of woe from the penalty spot stretch all the way back to 1975 where they lost to Kenya in the Cecefa Championship. 

They subsequently lost to Zambia at the same tournament nine years later, then to Kenya again in 1987, followed by a nerve shredding low scoring shoot-out by 2-1 against Uganda. Ten years on and they again lost out, this time to Namibia, in 2000 Angola beat them 5-5 followed by South Africa in 2002. 

A staggering eight penalty shoot-outs and eight defeats, but the curse was finally broken in 2003 when Malawi defeated the mighty Botswana in a quarter final showdown, at this point in their history, any win was a good win.

Sadly this triumph did not set the tone for further success from the spot as they have since gone on to lose out to Zambia in 2005, Uganda in 2006 and South Africa in 2007, meaning they have an overall penalty record of 11 defeats in 13 penalty shoot-outs.

Madagascar may be a tropical paradise but as a footballing nation they are truly cursed, and might well challenge Malawi for the worst penalty team title in due course, they have so far lost seven straight shoot-outs in their history, so Malawi may soon be looking over their shoulder as Madagascar mount a growing challenge for their title.

Perhaps someone should tell England about these teams before their next spot kick nightmare, it might fill them with some confidence, especially if they somehow get Malawi in a World Cup match!

Written by football fan and blogger, Sam Harvey

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