Football

Winners and losers unite in criticism

Winners and losers of Group E’s inaugural match between Denmark and the Netherlands had plenty to complain about: The pitch, the ball, the altitude and the vuvuzelas.

Dutch defender Mark van Bommel said his side’s 2-0 victory was not aided by the pitch, which made it difficult for them. “The pitch was very hard in the game. You saw that when we played the ball flat on the ground, it would not run smoothly. That is a disadvantage for us.

“We play a fast combination football and that was very difficult under the circumstances. When we did manage to do it, we had our chances,” Van Bommel said.

Although the Bayern Munich captain did not call for a ban on the >vuvuzela — he did say that it made communicating on the field very difficult.

“On five to ten metres it is fine, but then it becomes very difficult.

The experienced midfielder said the vuvuzelas were so loud that they were forcing players to change their habits.

“Normally you can say play the ball back, or turn. Now you have to do everything yourself. You have to keep on looking over your shoulder. You have to orientate yourself on the field much more, you have to keep on looking where your opponent is. That is not bad or terrible, but it does influence the game,” he said.

Danish goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen agreed with van Bommel.

“The problem is that you can’t communicate, you really have to be very close and in eye contact to be able to communicate.

Whatever I say the defenders will never hear,” Sorensen said.

The keeper did not explicitly blame the vuvuzelas for the comedy own goal that gifted the Dutch the lead on 46 minutes — Simon Poulsen heading a clearance against his own defensive teammate Daniel Agger and into the back of the net.

But he did reveal that the noise was changing their behaviour on the pitch, for instance by forcing them to plan the positioning of the wall on opponents’ set pieces well in advance.

“You have to get all of the things like who is in the wall sorted before, because you can’t shout, it is not possible,” he said.

The Stoke City custodian not only complained about the volume of the noise, but also about its quality.

“When you play in England, you are used to the good atmosphere because the people sing. But here it is just a constant noise, even when the goals are scored it is just the same noise.

“Obviously it is part of the tradition here, but I prefer people singing,” Sorensen said. The keeper also joined in the growing chorus of players who have had harsh words for the tournament’s official Jabulani ball.

While Argentinian star Lionel Messi says players are having problems getting used to it, Sorensen added a new dimension to its disputed qualities by arguing that it behaves differently depending on the altitude at, which the game takes place.

“You feel the breathing is a bit heavier (at high altitude), but the main difference is the ball comes a lot quicker, it is hard to control.

“Whoever deals with it the best will win because most of the games are up here and you can’t win if you can’t deal with it,” Sorensen said.

The World Cup has so far been characterized by a series of goalkeeper blunders, such as England’s Rob Green allowing in a harmless looking long-distance shot from Clint Dempsey for the US equaliser, or Algeria’s Faouzi Chaouchi mishandling a tame shot from Robert Koren for Slovenia’s winner.

But Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner said the players knew before the games started that there would be mistakes because of the ball from both goalkeepers and outside players. “When you kick it in the air, it swerves. You can’t anticipate its path before it comes.

“You only have a few games to adapt and you will have to get the best out of it in those games. If you play it along the floor, it is better, but of course you have to play long passes as well and that’s when it is a problem,” Bendtner said.

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Printable version | Apr 2, 2020 6:41:01 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/football/Winners-and-losers-unite-in-criticism/article16245239.ece

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