The World Cup is here. Hurrah! Slick High Definition images flash across our TV screens. Sweaty smiley blokes holding up the trophy, cheering children, hot girls in skinny fit team tees jumping up and down and more global brands endorsing the tournament than you can shake a Zulu inspired short sleeved shirt at.
But it’s not all whooping and waheying.Much like the playing surface at Wembly, lurking beneath the surface lies something that could cause the players to slip up.
Jabulani is a new word in the sporting lexicon. It’s the name for the Adidas range of match balls formulated especially for the World Cup. It will be a hugely successful product. You can barely advance 10 feet into your local Sports Direct without walking into an enormous tub of replica versions. Hell, I even bought one myself. It hasn’t made it out of the back bedroom yet, but I own one!
The ball was unveiled with some aplomb. Some Chelsea players asked to comment gave it rave reviews.
“The ball does exactly what I want you to do,” said Michael Ballack. ”
Frank Lampard gave it a thumbs up and Petr Cech called it, “a projectile”.
“For me the most important is contact with the ball, this ball is great,” Real Madrid’s Kaká gushed.
Unfortunately, as the ball has actually become increasingly played with in pre-tournament games, some are literally kicking the ball in anger.
Brazilian goalkeeper Julio Cesar said, “It’s terrible, horrible. It seems like those balls that you buy at the supermarket,”
Chilean keeper, Claudio Bravo doesn’t like it either. “It is a ball to make life difficult for the goalkeeper. It looks like a beach ball.”
Giampaolo Pazzini of Sampdoria isn’t a fan. “The ball is a disaster for the forwards. It moves a lot and it becomes difficult to control. Jumps to head a center but moves suddenly and faults.”
Whatever transpires, it does seem as if we could be in for some memorable play with a ball that doesn’t seem to want to sit still.
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