The "Jabulani" football being used at the ongoing World Cup in South Africa has come in for some vicious criticism from players, managers and pundits alike, but the ball is not the only reason why strikers are getting so much moveme nt in their shots.
Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas may have likened the Jabulani to a child's beachball, but there have also been some huge advances in the quality and capabilities of players' footwear, making the job of a keeper harder than ever.
Before the first ball was kicked, the Japanese team - dubbed the Blue Samurai - were not expected to make much impression on the tournament. Similarly, the boots designed by Mizuno Corp. were less well known than those of Adidas, Puma, Nike or Umbro.
But both Japan and Mizuno have surprised the opposition. The sporting goods firm released its range of six Ignitus boots last December and was anticipating sales of 50,000 pairs in the first six months.
Then Keisuke Honda, the star of the Japan national team and club side CSKA Moscow, showed just what he could do with the new boots and Mizuno went through its entire stock of 70,000 pairs in the first six mon ths of the year.
"Honda was very involved in the development of the new boots and we used him to discover just how the 'nonspinning ball' technique that he has perfected works," Tadashi Matsuda, a spokesman for Mizuno, told Relaxnews.
Known as "mukaiten" in Japanese, this refers to the ability of a player to kick a dead ball without any spin, causing it to perform unpredictably in flight - swerving or dipping suddenly - and making the shot a nightmare for goalkeepers.
After much analysis, Matsuda said, Mizuno experts identified the precise "sweet spot" on the upper instep of the foot for delivering this lethal shot and added an an extra strip of slightly softer leather - the Mukaiten Panel" - that reduces spin and adds as much as 10 percent to the speed of the ball.
Honda scored two goals in South Africa as Japan advanced to the knock-out stages only for the second time in their history, including a stunning free kick against Denmark.
Other players to wear the boot include Japan national team defender Yuki Abe and Roque Santa Cruz, the star striker of the Paraguay national team and Manchester City in the English Premier League.
Other boot manufacturers have also linked their new products to the World Cup.
Adidas unveiled its retro-style adiPure III boots shortly before the final as well as the F50 adiZero and Predator X, Umbro revamped its much-loved Speciali and Stealth Pro series, Italian sporting goods company Lotto launched the Fuerzapura L100 range and Puma has unveiled a number of new boots as the tournament has progressed, with the Puma v1.10 Final coming out shortly before the first match and the PowerCat 1.10 JB Final released specifically for the knockout stages.