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New World Cup ball causes concerns

Players struggle with Adidas’ Jabulani

IRENE, South Africa – Marcus Hahnemann is no fan of the new Adidas ball being used for the World Cup.

“Technology is not everything,” the American goalkeeper said Thursday. “Scientists came up with the atom bomb, doesn’t mean we should have invented it.”

Adidas says the Jabulani, its 11th World Cup model, will travel more accurately because it has eight bonded panels and is perfectly round. Goalkeepers have said it is unpredictable.

“If you get no spin on the ball, it’s supposed to knuckle. If you get spin on it, it’s supposed to bend. This ball you don’t know what’s going to happen with it,” said Hahnemann, the starting goalkeeper for Wolverhampton in the English Premier League. “It’s a nightmare for us.”

Based on how much the ball moves, he predicted attacking players will have trouble connecting on crosses.

“You’re going to see no headers on goal,” he said. “Nobody can judge anything.”

Bob Bradley thought Hahnemann’s predictions were overly dramatic. Besides, goalkeepers complain about the World Cup ball every, oh, four years.

“I think there’ll be a goal or two on headers in this World Cup,” he said. “This ball is new. It takes some getting used to. It also needs to be said that whenever you play at altitude, regardless of the ball, when you begin training, it takes a couple of days just to get used to the way the ball flies. The ball certainly takes off more.”

As an attacking player, Clint Dempsey likes the ball, whose name means “to celebrate” in isiZulu.

“If you just hit it solid, you can get a good knuckle on the ball, and I think that causes problems for the goalie,” he said. “The only thing is, you’ve just got to pay a little bit more, you know, attention when you pass the ball sometimes.”

That’s because the ball has little give.

“If you get the pass a little bit wrong, you can end up looking pretty silly,” he said. “It’s just focusing a little bit more.”