Adidas defends ball after costly goalkeeper mistakes

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The Independent Football

"Hand of clod", the wrong type of ball or simply an inexcusable mistake? That was the debate raging among millions of fans yesterday as they watched endless slow motion replays of the gut-wrenching moment Robert Green allowed America to even the score during England's first match of the World Cup.

As dawn broke over the team's camp in Rustenburg, the West Ham keeper was forced to contend with a more gloomy predicament: becoming a tabloid target, a punching bag for England fans' frustrations and an all American hero – all in one night.

Speculation is now rife over whether the keeper's failure to stop Clint Dempsey's strike on Saturday will lead to his removal as first keeper of choice. Fabio Capello might have come to his keeper's defence but the England boss remained silent on whether he would still be chosen for the game against Algeria on Friday.

If the punters are anything to go by, they still have faith in Green. Yesterday morning Ladbrokes was offering odds of 5/1 for the West Ham keeper to retain his place. But since 95 per cent of all bets placed were for Green keeping his place they have since shortened those odds to just 3/1.

Adidas defended criticism of its World Cup ball. The "Jabulani" ball, named after the Zulu word for "celebration", is by no means universally popular among keepers, with some complaining that it is difficult to predict.

Thomas Schaikvan, of Adidas, said: "We are happy with the ball's performance and don't think it had anything to do with the goal England conceded. On the contrary, if you look at the games so far, some goalkeepers have been the stars of the tournament."

Green was not the only keeper in England's group to make a costly mistake. Algeria's Faouzi Chaouchi spilled a tame shot from Slovenia's Robert Koren to concede the game's only goal yesterday.

England's fans inside the stadium were praised by South African officials yesterday for being on their "best behaviour". The six uniformed British policemen inside the stadium said they spent most of the evening posing for pictures with fans.