OPINION

The FIFA World Cup 2010 - A Sleeping Pill Called Jabulani?

June 25, 2010
Kaushik Chatterji
25 goals in 16 matches - a shade over 1.5 goals per match. That's how the FIFA World Cup South Africa 2010 started off, and all those of us who were eagerly waiting for our final semester engineering exams to get over just a couple of days before the action kicked off in Soccer City didn't know exactly how to react.

Tshabalala did the shakalaka for the hosts South Africa against the run of play in the opening match against Mexico, but what followed in the next 5 days was disappointing to say the least. 12 of them were low scoring affairs (0-0, 1-0 or 1-1) even though only one was goalless. The Koreans were on the receiving end in 2 of the remaining 4 - the South lost 2-0 to Greece; the North defended hard against perennial favourites Brazil but were unable to avert a 2-1 loss. The Dutch were expected to scintillate but were only able to do so on a select few occasions, more so in the second period of their opener against the Danes and ended up being 2-0 victors.

The highlights? Goal-to-goal periods in 3 of the 4 one-all draws; watching Messi, Tevez & Co. waiting to explode in the first period vs. Nigeria; the enthralling array of through passes and defence-splitting runs that the multi-ethnic and mostly young German bunch (Oezil and Muller are names that immediately spring to mind) came up with to rip apart the Socceroos 4-0. But was that because those guys were used to what everyone else was having a problem with? Jabulani, the official match ball, was tried out in Angola during the 2010 ANC as well as in the national leagues of USA and Argentina and also - it was alleged - Germany.

The skills on display were way below par, especially given the level of expectations of viewers fed on a diet of professional European leagues, and much of the blame was heaped upon the Jabulani. Its weight, shape, dimension, materials, structure, etc. all came in for criticism every time a direct free kick or a long distance shot went high over the crossbar, a corner got carried over the head of everybody in the penalty area and a long ball bounced right in front of the potential recipient, right over his head and out for a throw-in or a goal kick. England's Green and Algeria's Chaouchi, however, will tell you - and TV audiences the world over will agree - that no one suffered like the goalkeepers did. The former's mistake cost his team 2 points and him a place in the side; the latter's error meant that the African outsiders no longer had even that outside chance at making it into the knockouts.

Soon, though, the players settled down and adjusted themselves to the cold playing conditions, varying altitudes and a ball that seemingly had a mind of its own, and the results started undergoing a sea change. It all started with the last match of the first set of matches. Up next - shock & draw.
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The FIFA World Cup 2010 - A Sleeping Pill Called Jabulani?

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Author: Kaushik Chatterji

 

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