American goalie thinks World Cup ball is bad invention
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. But, you know, I enjoy the ball, and I look forward to, you know, getting some shots on goal with it.”
Earlier in the week, Brazilian forward Luis Fabiano called the ball weird and goalkeeper Julio Cesar compared it unfavorably to those bought at supermarkets. Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon said the Jabulani’s “trajectory is really unpredictable,” and Spanish keeper Iker Casillas claimed the balls were in an “appalling condition.”
“The people are saying it’s a ball to score goals,” FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke said this week. “It was the same in 2006; they called the ball the flying ball.”
World Cup scoring has dropped from 2.71 goals per game in 1994 to 2.67 in 1998 to 2.52 in 2002 to 2.30 four years ago.
“It’s a ball which is used by a number of teams. It’s months now since the ball has been put in the market by Adidas,” Valcke said. “And is it Brazil that says that because they are afraid that they will not make it and it will be due to the ball. We will see.”
That promoted a response Thursday from Brazil coach Dunga.
“He needs to play,” Dunga said. “If he played with the ball he would have a different opinion. He is a guy who never got on the field. I want him to be here in our practice and we will give him the ball to see if he can control it.”
Hahnemann took over as Wolverhampton’s starter from Wayne Hennessey in late November. Wolves upset Tottenham 1-0 twice in the Premier League, almost costing Spurs fourth place.
Hahnemann received “a lot of warnings that if they didn’t make the Champions League spot, I was in for it.”
“So I’m glad they made it in,” he said.
AP Sports Writer Tales Azzoni in Johannesburg contributed to this report.
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