'World Cup '18 will see more goals'
Mumbai City FC's Amrinder Singh, who was Indian Super League's best goalkeeper last year, puts the recently-launched 2018 FIFA World Cup ball - Telstar 18 - to the test and finds that it nearly passes with flying colours
Argentine football legend Lionel Messi gave the 2018 FIFA World Cup ball - Telstar 18 - the thumbs up when he launched it in Moscow, earlier this month. "I was lucky enough to get to know this ball a bit earlier and I managed to have a try with it. I like all of it - the new design, the colours, everything," Messi said then. But what is a boon to a striker could be a bane to goalkeepers. However, in the case of this ball, it's a perfect balance for both, says Indian Super League outfit, Mumbai City FC goalkeeper Amrinder Singh. "The ball is light and can pose a challenge to goalkeepers but we 'keepers thrive on challenges," Amrinder, 24, told mid-day as he tests the ball during a training session at the Navi Mumbai Sports Association ground in Vashi on Monday.
Golden Glove winner
Amrinder should know what it takes to succeed under the bar in challenging situations. He emerged as the best goalkeeper (Golden Glove award winner) in Mumbai City's FC's best finish (semi-finals) at the ISL last season. Amrinder is made to work hard with the ball by his teammate Sahil Tavora (above), who chips and shoot at him with equal precision. "The ball swerves a lot - the lateral movement is a bit tough to judge at first, but once you have it covered, it's just fine to grab at it safely," adds Amrinder, as he leaps into the air to cleanly pluck out an aerial ball. It's the quick shots that will be most difficult to gauge, says the six-foot-one, strapping custodian, who deftly dives to his left to block a low shot by Tavora. "Anticipation will be key for this ball. I think the experienced 'keepers will excel under the bar. But of course, the young and fitter guys also have a good chance if they train hard with it," adds the Punjab-born player.
Mumbai City FC goalkeeper Amrinder Singh stretches every sinew as he tests the 2018 FIFA World Cup ball, Telstar 18, at the Navi Mumbai Sports Association ground in Vashi on Monday. Pics/Datta Kumbhar
The most crucial factor, though, is that this ball will entertain, says Amrinder. "Football is known as the beautiful game because it entertains. And that's exactly what this ball will offer. It will be great to control for the midfielders, and strikers will see it move quickly through the air. I'm not sure how many goals the last World Cup in Brazil saw [171 goals at an average of almost three per match], but this edition will surely have more goals. But having said that, don't count us goalkeepers out," he signs off.
All about the ball
Telstar 18 is derived from Telstar, the name of the ball used in the first televised FIFA World Cup in 1970. Telstar originates from 'star of television'. As it was the first time the World Cup was to be televised, the black-white panels were designed for maximum on-screen visibility. Telstar 18 is made of six PU panels thermally fused together to offer a seamless exterior which is conducive to better friction and offers consistent movement across all weather conditions.
Amrinder's tips on how to handle the ball
The ball swerves a lot and is a bit tough to judge at the start, but once you have it covered, it's safe to grab at it
Anticipation is key to judge this ball. Getting low quickly and keeping your body behind the ball should keep things safe.
Anticipation is key. While experienced 'keepers will excel, the young and fitter guys can also do well if they train hard
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