Former Indian National Team striker Baichung Bhutia feels “all strikers need to develop their sixth sense if they are to score regularly.”
In a chat with AIFF TV, Baichung, the first Indian footballer to have played 100 International matches expressed, “It’s all about that sixth sense. You need to smell it as to where it would be coming. The best strikers in the world all have that sense. You need to read situations. Unless you don’t develop your sixth sense, you won’t be a successful striker.”
Referring to an anecdote where Sunil Chhetri mentioned that ‘scoring goals was all about life and death for Baichung-bhai,’ Baichung who made his International debut at the age of 19 stressed on the importance of “making those runs every time you sense it.”
“Those runs are extremely critical for a striker. I used to keep telling Sunil (Chhetri) that you need to anticipate and make runs from where you can score. If you go wide, you have to dribble and get past the defender, and by the time you turn and get past him, others will also rush in to block you,” he opined.
“Only once or twice out of maybe 10 situations you will get the chance to score. But you need to keep on doing it,” he explained.
“As a striker, you need to have the sense because you only get a fraction of a second to put the ball past the goalkeeper in the net. That is where strikers need to develop technically and mentally,” Bhutia maintained.
“Very often strikers come to me to ask what we can do when we don’t get goals. I only tell them no matter what, you should not stop from making those runs. If you don’t score in the first nine times and then give up, you’ll not even be near to the ball in the 10th time,” he averred.
“If you look at Ronaldo and Messi, it’s not always that they dribble past 3-4 defenders. Rather, all big strikers wait for the ball and then touch it. At the end, it’s all about developing that sense, and I repeat unless you keep on making those runs you will never develop that sense.”
Baichung even made mention of Rustam Akramov shifting him from a midfielder to a striker. “I was an attacking midfielder and was used to make those runs from behind to get into the box and set myself in a position from where I could score. Those days we weren’t much tactically equipped. Not many people would teach you in which position you should play. It was all natural – that’s how I played,” he quipped.