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The World Cup balls are getting faster, Uruguay goalkeeper says

FIFA says the new ball, named Al Rihla or ‘the journey’ in Arabic, travels faster than any other in the World Cup tournament’s history.

Sergio Rochet gives a press conference at Al Erssal in Doha on November 20, 2022 during the Qatar 2022 World Cup football tournament. (Photo by PABLO PORCIUNCULA / AFP)
Uruguay's goalkeeper Sergio Rochet gives a press conference at Al Erssal in Doha on November 20, 2022 [Pablo Porciuncula/AFP]

Goalkeepers are facing an ever tougher task at the Qatar World Cup 2022 tournaments as the balls travel increasingly fast and the new model being used in Qatar is no exception, Uruguayan goalkeeper Sergio Rochet said.

FIFA has said that the new ball – named Al Rihla or “the journey” in Arabic – travels faster than any other in the tournament’s history.

“Year after year, it gets better for the strikers and for us goalkeepers it gets very tough,” Rochet told reporters on Sunday ahead of the South Americans’ first match of the 2022 World Cup against South Korea on Thursday.

“This is a very fast ball,” Rochet said. “We are in a process of adaptation.”

The 29-year-old, who plays for Nacional in his homeland, has established himself as the first-choice keeper for Uruguay coach Diego Alonso, taking over from Fernando Muslera, 36, a veteran of three World Cups but who is likely to be sitting on the bench this time.

Rochet was speaking to reporters after a training session that ended with a series of games and jokes.

“We have a very good group. There is no doubting the quality. A good atmosphere can be a good influence,” Rochet said.

“But when the time comes to work, we focus 100 percent on what we have to do.”

The Uruguay team have arrived in Qatar with a blend of youth and experience that has left some commentators believing they are one to watch at the World Cup.

After the South Korea match, two-time World champions Uruguay take on Portugal and Ghana in Group H.

The team’s Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani will take part in their fourth World Cup as the Uruguay squad look to win the trophy for the first time since 1950.

“You always dream and hope to reach as far as possible in the tournament, but we must go step-by-step,” Rochet said on Sunday.

“It is a very difficult group where any team is capable to beat any rival, so we must just focus on the road ahead thinking now about South Korea, and that’s our only focus,” he said.

“Then, after Korea, we will start thinking of Portugal and that’s the way to take each match with confidence because I think we have a very good team.”

Source: News Agencies