CAPE TOWN, South Africa — The World Cup finally has a team that loves the maligned Jabulani ball.
That's to be expected, however, with Portugal running up the biggest score at the tournament in eight years.
"We love the ball," Portugal coach Carlos Queiroz said Monday after his players beat North Korea 7-0 in the Group G match.
The Jabulani ball has been criticized as being uncontrollably lightweight, making it difficult to pass precisely or keep long-range shots on target. Many complaints, though, have come from losing teams or players who have blundered — including plenty of goalkeepers.
On Monday, the ball was tested in some of the toughest conditions yet at this World Cup. Hours of rain before the match soaked the pitch at Green Point Stadium, and the showers returned for most of the game.
The Portuguese, though, had little trouble, even as the ball sometimes skidded erratically.
Passes rarely failed to find teammates and shots were low enough to score seven goals, only one less than Germany's 8-0 win over Saudi Arabia in 2002.
"We are professional," Queiroz said. "We need to be engaged to produce great entertainment and forget this discussion about the ball, the vuvuzelas, whatever. We need to concentrate on the game. A World Cup is all about entertainment, football skills and goals. Not about these secondary things."
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