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World Cup briefs - Keepers go ballistic over Jabulani

Published: 01 Jun 2010 - 06:43:23

Spain's Iker Casillas is the latest in a line of goalkeepers who are unhappy with the ball to be used at the World Cup, with the Real Madrid player calling it "appalling".

After the European champions sneaked to a 3-2 win over Saudi Arabia on Saturday, Casillas said: "It's sad that that such an important competition like the World Cup has such an important element like this ball of appalling condition. Not only goalkeepers are complaining about it."

Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar recently called the Adidas ball "horrible" and "terrible" and likened it to something from a "grocery store."

This should come as no surprise as it seems no World Cup can now be played without complaints about the tournament ball, always provided by Adidas, and that always promises to be the most accurate ever. Of course, Adidas want to use the tournament to maximise interest and hype around their product and design but surely it makes sense to have the matchball ready a year before so that players are used to its dynamics in advance of football's biggest global event?

That would allow the tournament to be less hindered by wayward shooting and embarrassing goalkeeping as in 2002 and 2006 but would still allow Adidas to unveil a tournament specific design when the World Cup comes around.

Last week England hopeful Joe Hart said, "They're doing anything but staying in my gloves. It's hard work with them, but good fun. It makes the game exciting and I think that's what they are trying to do with it."

I'm sure Fabio Capello won't be agreeing if one of his mistake costs England in South Africa next month.

The ball named 'Jabulani', which means 'to celebrate' in Zulu, features 11 different colours representing the 11 players that take to the field for each side, the 11 official languages of South Africa and the 11 tribes of South Africa. This we are told 'lends the ball a unique appearance in African spirit and has been endorsed by Kaka, Petr Cech and Michael Ballack, who surprisingly, are all sponsored by Adidas.

"It's fantastic, the ball does exactly what I want it to," said Ballack. Shame we won't see exactly what that is this summer.

SERB SUPPORT SPILLS OVER

Nemanja Vidic, normally known for his no-nonsense approach to play, was forced to placate his country's fans on Saturday night as they slipped to an embarrassing pre-World Cup friendly defeat to New Zealand.

Fans rioted during the second-half of their game in Austria, throwing flares and missiles on the pitch with a small contingent of fans also making their way onto the pitch where they were stopped by stewards.

Shane Smeltz scored the only goal of the game to ensure a win for New Zealand against a side ranked 63 places above them in the FIFA World Rankings.

Vidic, stand-in captain in the absence of Dejan Stankovic, was forced to speak over the PA system to calm down his country's fans, with New Zealand threatening to walk off and force the abandonment of the game.

Still, I'm sure England's dangerous and volatile fans will be the ones to keep an eye on this summer. Or so we will be told.

IN-FORM FRONTLINE

There will not be many nations competing at this summer's tournament with two strikers in as prolific domestic form as Oscar Tabare's Uruguay.

The two-time winners named their final squad for South Africa on Saturday with Ajax's Luis Suarez, who scored 49 goals in all competitions last season, joining Diego Forlan, whose two goals in the final over Fulham sealed the Europa League for Atletico Madrid.

Uruguay, who line-up against Mexico, France and hosts South Africa in Group A could emerge as second-round opponents for Fabio Capello's England. And if recent form is anything to go by, with Forlan scoring the goals that ended Liverpool and Fulham's hopes in Europe this season, Diego would quite fancy a meeting with England.

ETO'O IN QUIT THREAT

Cameroon striker Samuel Eto'o has threatened to pull out of the World Cup after being criticised by legendary countryman Roger Milla.

Eto'o who won the Champions League, for a third time in four seasons in Inter’s 2-0 win over Bayern Munich at the Bernabeu ten days ago, reacted angrily to criticism of his form for his country, although Milla, star of Cameroon's march to the quarter-finals in 1990 and whom has attracted controversy over the validity of his age and passport, stopped short of claiming he was young enough to be going in his place.

"Is it worth me going to the World Cup? I still have a few days to think about it but I will see if my participation is important because I don't need this in my career," said Eto'o.

Coach Paul Le Guen has named Eto'o in the Cameroon squad even though he missed the 1-1 friendly draw against Slovakia on Saturday. You can count on him lining up in their opening Group Game against Japan in Bloemfontein on June 14.

Slovakia suffered bad news after that game when they learnt that their most experienced player Miroslav Karhan, with 96 caps to his name, would be ruled out of the tournament with a hamstring injury.

"I am very disappointed, it is hard to say more," said Karhan.

WORLD CUP FEVER SWEEPS ARGENTINA

Argentina's players were treated to a patriotic send-off as they left for South Africa last week. Thousands lined their route to Buenos Aires international airport with coach Diego Maradona claiming he'd run naked through the streets of Buenos Aires if they come home with the trophy.

"We're all with Diego," said Martin Bertaina, who had ridden his horse 12 miles to join the crowds lining the road to the airport.

READ WORLD CUP BRIEFS EXCLUSIVELY AT FOOTBALL.CO.UK

DSG


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FOOTBALL.CO.UK BLOGGER:andy bishop
Having worked in radio, newspapers, magazines, internet and television I hope to now bring my passion for the game to your computer screens with analysis, comment and tongue-in-cheek humour on all things global in the world of football - from Barcelona to Boca and from Blatter to Berlusconi...enjoy!

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