CF vs ST

Striker (ST) vs Centre Forward (CF) – What’s The Difference?

Last updated on April 22nd, 2022

You may have encountered the terms Striker (ST) and Center Forward (CF) before when watching football. Or maybe, you may have seen these when playing FIFA.

What are these 2 positions, and how are they different?

Here’s what you need to know:

The difference between ST and CF

A striker is a player who leads his team in attack and shoulders the responsibility of goalscoring. He usually receives passes and finishes goalscoring opportunities

Meanwhile, the Center Forward is not restricted in the box and plays more of a free role. His primary function is to provide and finish goalscoring opportunities for the team.

Here’s a detailed breakdown of these 2 positions:

Position on the field

Both of these players are usually at the centre of the attack. However, there are slight variations between them:

An ST is positioned inside the penalty box

The striker is usually the focal point of his team’s attack. Thus, he roams in and around the box to pounce on chances. 

The CF is positioned just outside the box

Although the CF also leads his team in attack, he is not restricted into the box. Instead, this player usually stays outside the box to help build-up play and provide chances for his teammates.

A CF is somewhat similar to a second striker (SS), and you can check out the differences here.

Common numbers associated with these positions

In the past, squad numbers were used to indicate players’ positions. However, the rules are more flexible now, allowing on-field players to wear any number they can choose.

Pure strikers are usually associated with the iconic number 9 shirt. However, the Center Forwards usually wear the numbers 10 and 9.


Both of these positions have very well-defined roles:

An ST is the primary attacker of the team

As the focal point of the attack, the striker’s main responsibility is to score goals. He is usually on the end of chances created by his teammates to get the goal

However, it is also possible for defenders and goalkeepers to score goals too.

A CF is heavily instrumental to the team’s attack

In contrast, CFs are not always the focal point of their team’s attack. Although they are also required to score goals, they help out the attack in many other ways. This is done by creating chances, helping to build up play, and even dragging out the opposition defence.

Traits required for these 2 roles

Here are some traits that these 2 positions should possess:

An ST should be a competent and reliable goalscorer

The striker is the primary attacker of the team. As such, he must be competent enough to capitalise on the chances created by his teammates. Goals win games, and the striker is crucial to the outcome of his team’s efforts.

Thus, an ST must embody the right qualities to finish chances and help his team win. Likewise, as a striker, you must embody the right qualities to validate your teammates’ efforts as they all count on you. 

Lethal Finishing Ability

Being the striker means you will be on the end of multiple chances. Therefore, a striker must be lethal in these situations and score goals for the team.

This means that the striker must be sharp and make correct decisions on the fly. Strikers have an arsenal of techniques they employ in finishing chances, and all good strikers must apply them appropriately. These include:

  • Chip-shot
  • Curler shot
  • Power shot

A striker can improve his finishing skills and learn how to apply them in games through continuous practice.   

Good Heading Ability

An ST is expected to be a good header as many teams create their chances by swinging in crosses from the wide areas. The skill to head the ball well could prove crucial in such situations.

A great many important goals have come from set pieces and outfield crosses. In situations like these, the striker must use his heading abilities to make the best of it.

Here are 3 set pieces where you can’t be offside from.

Headers are also used in winning high balls. When the ball is launched long, the striker must use his excellent header skills to retain possession for his team.

Off-the-ball Movements

 As the game of football is fluid, so must the striker be. The ST leads the attack and should not remain rigid even when he is not in possession of the ball.

The striker must move consistently to take advantage of spaces between and behind the opposition defence. Movement like these helps free up his teammates and create an opening for him to score.

Great Awareness and Timing

The striker must be highly aware of the team’s play. It is crucial to maintain awareness as a dip in concentration could foil the team’s efforts. In addition, high awareness helps the striker make the right moves at the right time.

The skill of timing and awareness also proves crucial in the case of the offside trap. As a striker in such a situation, you should be aware of the opposition’s defensive shape and move at the right time to beat the offside trap.

Strength, Stamina and Pace

Being the primary attacker, strikers are usually up against two or more defenders. The confrontations with these defenders can get rigorous. Thus, the striker must possess enough strength to avoid getting outmuscled.

Although STs do not require much speed, the striker must be quick enough to get on the end of balls from his teammates. This also requires them to have great stamina as they must work hard to get on the end of as many chances as possible.

Good Dribbling Ability

A striker is not usually a great dribbler as they stay high up the pitch. However, a striker must be skilful enough to dribble through opponents when necessary.

A CF should be versatile and hardworking

Although the CF is not burdened with goalscoring responsibilities, the player is still crucial to the team’s attack. This is because he embodies the total attacking threat. 

The CF scores goals, creates chances, holds up play, links with the midfield, opens space, helps build play and even presses. Thus, a Center Forward requires a flurry of skills and traits to fulfil his role and help the team.

A CF should be a great passer

Much of the CF’s responsibilities revolve around creating great chances for his other teammates to score. Thus, it is necessary for assisting in the build-up play.

As a CF, you must utilise excellent passing skills to find and link with your teammates. These passes come in the form of:

  • Though balls
  • Long balls
  • Cut-backs
  • Crosses

Thus, a CF must utilise great passing to create opportunities for his team.

A CF should be a great dribbler

The CF usually progresses the ball from deep to higher up the pitch. In doing so, he must use excellent dribbling skills to escape the opposition press. This helps him to get into good positions to create chances.

Mobility and Good Link-up Play

The CF must be able to drop deep into the midfield and wide to the wings to help out with progression into the final third. As a Center Forward, you should not be stationary like a striker might be. A good CF is mobile and all over the team’s attacking play.

A CF must be sharp

Center Forwards are the fastest thinking players on the team’s attack. Therefore, once they get the ball, it is essential that they immediately kick start the team’s advance on goal. 

They must also be sharp enough to recognize spaces and exploit them in favour of the team. This could create great opportunities for themselves or pull away defenders from their teammates.  

Versatile and Creativity

The Center Forward must be very versatile and continuous in the team’s attack. As a CF, you should be full of ideas on how to break down the opponent’s defence.

Thus, they are required to have a flurry of moves and tricks. They must not be easily predictable and continuously look for new ways to exploit the opponent. Their versatility also means that they can fit in other attacking positions if needed.

Good goalscoring instincts

While the CF is not usually the team’s primary goalscorer, he will still find himself in great positions to score goals. The CF must utilise his refined skills to finish these chances in such cases. 

The Center Forward must step up to find the back of the net whenever necessary. Just like the striker, the CF can also deploy whatever technique is appropriate for a chance. Many good CFs are superb at scoring from outside the box.

Famous examples

There are many famous examples for each of these 2 positions: 


These are some of the top STs in football:

#1 Zlatan Ibrahimovic

The Swedish legend is undoubtedly one of the many greats of all time. Zlatan had his breakthrough at Ajax and went on to play at many great clubs, including:

  • Juventus
  • AC Milan
  • Inter
  • Barcelona
  • Manchester United
  • Paris Saint-Germain

Zlatan is still going strong at 40 years old and is redefining the limits of football with every stride he takes. Although he remains famous for his egotistical character, his immense career tally of over 500 goals remains his most remarkable attribute.

#2 Gabriel Batistuta

The Argentine legend is another footballer who has inspired generations after him. His exploits for club and country have immortalised him in the hearts of many.

He was physically solid and a prolific goalscorer that took his teams to greater heights. Batistuta is fondly remembered as Bastigol, and his tally of over 300 career goals justify that. 

#3 Samuel Eto’o

Eto’o is regarded as one of the greats. The Cameroonian’s football journey was glamorous in every way as he brought great glory to his clubs and country.

His achievements include:

  • Ending Barcelona’s 14-year UCL drought.
  • Wining successive trebles with Barcelona and Inter.
  • 4X African player of the Year
  • 2X African champion with Cameroon

Eto’o is notable for his devastating pace and excellent finishing.

Centre Forward

There are many talented CFs in the world, some of which are:

#1 Karim Benzema

The Frenchman has remained one of the world’s best since his emergence at Lyon about a decade later. He is an impressive playmaker with a predator’s instinct for goal. With his adept use of dribbling, quick combinations and vertical passes, Benzema has remained at the top of his game for a long time.

He is the all-time top assister for Real Madrid. Benzema’s total career tally stands at an impressive 406 goals, including 76 Champions League goals, and 202 assists.  

#2 Wayne Rooney

The poster boy of England since he stepped on the world stage, Rooney is one of the greatest to ever play the game. His playstyle was a combination of versatility, hard work and sharpness. 

Rooney is an inspiration to many far and wide. However, the most remarkable portion of his career was at Manchester United, where he led them to glory time and time again.

If you are looking to buy the latest Manchester United merchandise, you can get it from the official Manchester United store.

#3 Roberto Firmino

Firmino is an essential player for his teams. At Liverpool, he plays most of his club games in a trio with Salah and Mane, with whom he has achieved a great many things.

They benefit significantly from the Brazilian’s creative gameplay. 

He has been incredible for both club and country throughout his career.


Here is a quick comparison between these 2 positions:

Striker (ST)Center Forward (CF) 
PositionIn the middle of the attack,
inside the box.
Roaming in a free role
around the attacking area
Common Numbers99 and 10
RoleActs as the focal point of attack.
The primary goalscorers of the team.
Creates chances and scores goals. 
Heavily involved in the build-up
of the team’s attack.
Skills RequiredLethal Finishing
Good Heading
Great movement
Chance creation
Versatility and Mobility
Good goalscoring
Great link-up play and passing
Famous ExamplesZlatan Ibrahimovic 
Gabriel Batistuta
Samuel Eto’o
Karim Benzema
Wayne Rooney
Roberto Firmino

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