Is dull World Cup down to the ‘terrible’ Jabulani ball?
Yet more criticism of the Adidas ball - but things in South Africa could be about to pick up
As the first round of matches at the World Cup ended with two more 1-0 wins there was yet more criticism of the tournament - with most of it aimed, once again, at the controversial Jabulani ball.
The name might come from the Zulu word for 'celebrate', but many observers hold it directly responsible for the notable lack of goal celebrations so far this summer. Indeed, some have nicknamed it the 'Jumanji', after the Robin Williams film, on account of its capriciousness.
England manager Fabio Capello is one of the latest to have a pop at the Adidas-manufactured ball, which he said was the worst he had ever seen.
"For the players it is terrible," said the forthright Italian. "It is also terrible for the keepers because it is impossible to anticipate the trajectory."
He explained that not only did it make shots at goal a lottery, it also prevented long passes from ending up in the right place.
England's main man Wayne Rooney was as blunt as his manager and described it as a "nightmare".
Even the usually laid back Sven Goran-Eriksson agrees. The former England boss is now manager of Ivory Coast and he has called for a meeting about how to fix the problem.
It's not just those using the ball who are concerned, broadcasters seem to be getting frustrated as well. Writing on his blog, the BBC's sports editor David Bond described the tournament as "the most boring World Cup in history" and went on: "Most people seem to be pointing the finger of blame at the swerving Jabulani."
Adidas though remain steadfast in their defence of the ball, which they claim was fully tested and offered to the teams well in advance of the tournament.
And it is not all doom and gloom. South Africa's coach, the veteran Brazilian Carlos Alberto Parreira, blamed the lack of goals on first round nerves and a negativity borne of not wanting to lose their opening game in the tournament.
He may have a point - Uruguay thrashed his own South African team in the first game of the second round of matches, and showed far more enterprise and willingness to attack than they had against France.
Then there is also the fact that as the tournament wears on the players will inevitably become used to the ball's idiosyncracies. It is surely no co-incidence that the most impressive team in the first week was Germany, whose players have been using the Jabulani in their domestic league competition since February.
Adidas will be praying that the players do master the Jabulani and begin to attack more as the tournament wears on. If so then by the time it's all over fans will have forgotten a less-than-spectacular opening week for the World Cup. ·