Adidas has released the first pictures of the match ball, which will be used in the knockout stages of the World Cup in Russia. Nigeria and Argentina will lock horns this evening to see who makes it to the round of 16.
The new ball known as Telstar Mechta, is fit with a ‘vivid red design’ which, according to the sports company, is supposed to reflect the colours of the host nation and the ‘rising heat’ of knockout football. Throughout the tournament so far, the black-and-white Telstar 18 has been used. But that ball will be replaced at the end of the group stages. Going by the fixtures, it will first be used on June 30 in the first last-16 match that is likely to see France face one of Argentina, Nigeria or Iceland in Kazan. Adidas claim the ball has been through ‘extensive testing to ensure it suits the needs for the best players in the world,’ with some of the world’s leading club and national sides involved in the process.
The likes of Harry Kane and Cristiano Ronaldo will be hoping the new balls in Russia continue to work in their favour, with the two forwards currently tied in the race for the Golden Boot on five goals. At the heart of the balls used in Russia is sustainability, with recycled backing material and packaging used to limit its environmental footprint. ‘The Telstar 18 was a huge step forward technically when it came to Official Match Balls. With the Telstar Mechta we have taken that same innovative design and re-imagined it, creating a ball that perfectly suits the pressures and opportunities of the FIFA World Cup knockout stage,’ Dean Lokes of Adidas said.
FIFA spokesman Jean-Francois Pathy added: ‘This year, adidas delivers yet another beautifully designed ball, the Telstar Mechta, putting innovation and performance at the core of the game.’