Remember that match ball named Jabulani from 2010? Ask Forlán and Khune

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A close-up shot of the Adidas Jabulani match ballPHOTO: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images
A close-up shot of the Adidas Jabulani match ballPHOTO: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images


Contrary to its name Jabulani (loosely translating to happiness), the 2010 Fifa World Cup official match ball did not bring joy to some, at least according to the adverse ratings it received from some of the megastars who converged on these shores for the global showpiece 12 years ago.

Jabulani, a product of German sports goods maker Adidas, received a beating similar to the vuvuzela, which also irritated those who couldn’t stand the noise of the symbolic South African soccer fan’s match-day instrument.

As for Jabulani, those who kicked it bemoaned that the ball defied the laws of physics, particularly its movement and the way it dipped and swerved.

READ: Where are Bafana’s ‘class of 2010’ members?

Brazilian goalkeeper Júlio César likened the ball to “one of those you buy in the supermarket”, while his then-national team-mate Robinho ridiculed the designer as “the guy who never played football”.

International media had a field day filing a series of criticisms of Jabulani during the June 11 to July 11 2010 tournament.

At the centre of the debate was that the traditional ball had 32 pentagonal panels with internal stitching. But this was later developed into a 14-bonded panel. Then the Jabulani ball came along with an eight-bonded panel design with aerodynamic grooves and ridges.

All these impacted on the speed and flight, according to aerodynamics studies carried out on the soccer balls.

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However, Uruguay’s legendary striker Diego Forlán developed a love affair with Jabulani as his trademark long-range missiles entertained the fans throughout, while it took his nation to the semifinals of the maiden World Cup staged on African soil.

It was on this day (June 16) at a freezing Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria when Forlán fashioned out a rocket and hammered a brace in the South American’s 3-0 thumping of Bafana Bafana.

Although captain Aaron Mokoena was culpable for Uruguay’s goal, there was no way Itumeleng Khune could have stopped

Forlán’s 24th-minute pile driver during that group stage match in Pretoria.

The then Atletico de Madrid marksman scored the other goal from the penalty spot after Khune fouled Luis Suárez inside the box.

Khune was red carded for this foul and there was little his replacement, Moeneeb Josephs, could do to deny Forlán his brace.

Forlán’s wonder goal at Loftus was one of the strikes that would ultimately land the tournament’s joint top scorer with five goals along with three other players.

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He launched other missiles past Ghana (from a freekick in the quarterfinals) and a long-range strike against the Netherlands in the semifinals.

However, Germany’s Thomas Müller was declared the ultimate winner of the Golden Ball because he had more assists than Forlán, the Netherlands’ Wesley Sneijder and David Villa of Spain.

Forlán scored his final goal in Uruguay’s 3-2 defeat to Germany in the third-place play-off.

As for Jabulani, its successor Brazuca, which Adidas launched for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, did not draw as much criticism.

Brazuca, slang for Brazilian, was decided via a fan poll conducted in the South American country before the tournament that was won by Germany.


Daniel Mothowagae 

Deputy sports editor

+27 11 713 9001
69 Kingsway Rd, Auckland Park
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