World Cup ball is kicked about with epithets

Dusseldorf, May 31 (DPA) The world’s best footballers are far from impressed with the World Cup ball, with the verdict ranging from terrible to useless.

The most damning statements on the ‘Jabulani’ ball came from the goalkeepers who appear to have a harder time at each big event to cope with the latest inventions.

‘I believe it is a shame to play with a ball like this and such an important tournament,’ said Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon on the weekend.

Brazil’s Julio Cesar said sarcastically that the ball ‘is similar to those you can buy in a supermarket.’

Spain’s Iker Casillas has dismissed the object as ‘appalling’ and England’s David James expects ‘goals at this World Cup you would have never seen at past editions’.

The ball has been the centre of attention and criticism over the past big events. Made by Adidas, who provide the World Cup ball since 1970, the Jabulani was to end the heated debate about its unpredictable trajectory as the ‘best’ ball that has ever been made.

Instead, the tradition simply continued, and like in the past it was often the non-Adidas equipped players that led the choir and disagreed with the statement of Germany captain Michael Ballack, whose club (Chelsea) and country sports the famous three stripes.

‘Fantastic. The ball does exactly what I want it to do. There are no more excuses,’ Ballack said.

But Ballack will miss the World Cup due to injury while others have to deal with the hi-tech ball, and criticism was not restricted to goalkeepers.

Serbia and Manchester United defender Nemanja Vidic blamed the Jabulani for his blunder which led to a 1-0 defeat against New Zealand on the weekend.

Italy striker Giampaolo Pazzini also found harsh words: ‘The ball is a disaster, for attackers as well. He are jumping into the air for a header, it makes a move and you miss it.’

Spanish midfield genius Xavi was also far from in a praising mood as players could face even more unpredictability once the tournament in South Africa starts – given the higher altitude of matches in cities like Johannesburg and Pretoria.