Controversial Jabulani ball
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Controversial Jabulani ball

One thing that seems to stir some concern in the current World Cup is the Jabulani football being used. The manufacturer, Adidas, claims it is a perfect ball, almost 100 per cent spherical, which got full credit from FIFA. However, it is the players who use the ball and play to win.

Some called it a beach ball, others, like Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar, compared it to a 'supermarket' ball that favoured strikers and worked against goalkeepers; England's Joe Hart, after training with the ball for a number of days, said the "balls have been doing anything but staying in my gloves". It is impossible to list here all other comments about the Jabulani.

But could this ball be causing trouble and getting unexpected results? Take England's goalkeeper, Robert Green, in his first match in the World Cup. He is a very good keeper but he was blamed by many, if not all, when the ball just hit his gloves and went past him into the net. Having been between the posts for several years myself and knowing a thing or two about goalkeeping, I can imagine his feelings.

Considering the criticism about the Jabulani, I feel that Green didn't expect the ball to behave the way it did. The ball just bounced and he placed his hands ready to get it, but as this ball is said to be fast and also spins, it could be that on being handled by Green, it just shifted sideways to his surprise and to the surprise of those of us watching.

The same happened to Vincent Enyeama, the Nigerian keeper. He dived straight to get the ball and again placed his hands where the ball was expected to go after the bounce, but again instead of reaching the gloves it went up his arm and straight into the net.

These were not the only two instances noticed. Many have seen high balls going over the crossbar. It is true that everyone makes mistakes, but is it possible that all these high-quality players are shooting so badly? Or could it be that the ball is really travelling faster and gaining more height as it travels, thus missing the target?

Also, when dribbling, many players seem to lose control of the ball as they never find it where they usually expect it, but much further away and sometimes beyond the white line. I believe this is because the ball goes faster and so the calculations have to be adjusted if the players want to be back on the ball after a dribble.

On a different note: how sweet and almost moving of Didier Drogba to put his arm around his opponent Cristiano Ronaldo during the match between Ivory Coast and Portugal, and to have a friendly, face-to-face chat. Doesn't this show that even if we play for different teams, let alone side with them, we can also be friends and do not need to spite and hate each other?

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