Gloves are off as Robinson insists new ball is keeper's nightmare
Wednesday 07 June 2006
At the England team's Mittelbergstadion training base yesterday, Paul Robinson was well aware of the irony that this World Cup is designed to complicate matters for him. The eve of a major international tournament is invariably the time for the goalkeepers' union to issue warnings about the unpredictable nature of the official match ball.
Lighter, faster, though capable of generating immense power as the female Japanese journalist who took one full in the face from a John Terry shot yesterday can testify the adidas Team Geist World Cup ball has already generated criticism from glovemen who say it is designed to favour strikers.
Robinson said: "The ball is two-piece and glued together, rather than stitched together. It moves a lot, it's very light and like a volleyball. When it's wet it's even worse as it has a plastic coating."
The Spurs keeper, who is studying DVD compilations of the Paraguay players' penalties and set-piece routines has given himself the best chance of dealing with the problem.
"I had the foresight that the ball would not be what we are used to and with four or five weeks to go of the Premiership season I got half a dozen of them," he said. "I mixed them in with my training balls at Spurs so I have been training with them since then."
Robinson has also devised a training plan to make life even more difficult for England's possible penalty takers, after misses by Frank Lampard and Peter Crouch last week.
"I've told the lads to tell me where they're putting it and I won't dive until they hit it. That way it's harder for them to score and they learn to put it right in the corners," he added.
Seamless transition: The new design
The World Cup ball made by adidas has 14 hand-stitched panels instead of the usual 32 and fewer seams.
Strange as it may seem, it is much rounder, being only one per cent off being a perfect ball. The aim has been to increase a player's accuracy and skill.
The ball weighs between 441g and 444g, which is one gram less than the Fifa standard weight. It also spins more through the air. This is down to the polyurethane-based syntactic foam, which is applied to an adhesive layer that bonds the outer skin to the ball.
The foam consists of millions of gas-filled microspheres. "This ensures the ball quickly returns to its original round shape after becoming deformed when kicked, and it is this that gives it an optimum trajectory," says Thomas Michaelis, the manager of the World Cup Ball project.
The smooth kicking surface enables every pass and shot to be accurate, powerful and fast.
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