Personal Space: Hans Krankl on Zone Defence

Interview Lifestyle Living Space

"In earlier days, games were played with man coverage – meaning in simple terms that you would have a sweeper and two defenders who would follow the strikers of the opposing team everywhere.

During my own career, I scored quite a number of goals, and in their attempts to prevent these goals the coaches would say something like "Cover Krankl and follow him everywhere – even to the men’s room if need be" to the defender. That was man coverage at its extreme.

Then, many years ago, particularly the Italians and Spaniards discovered that zone coverage is much more efficient, requiring much less effort, power and running around by the players, but intelligence. In other words, there are four defenders at the rear covering their zone. They no longer run after a player - on the contrary, the players are handed on from one defender to another."

Nowadays, most teams have made the transition from man to zone coverage. In Krankl’s opinion, Austria lagged far behind, so that in this country, the technique took longer to be perfected. Today the choice of strategy seems to be a question of philosophy and individual attitude.

Krankl’s favourite classic example demonstrating the "old" technique is Otto Rehagel, who led Greece to victory in the European championship. However, provided that players are fast and intelligent enough, he clearly favours zone coverage – maybe because he wants to spare his players from having to follow their opponents to the toilet.


Lilli Hollein