Adidas has released the first pictures of the match ball to be used in the knockout stages of the World Cup in Russia.
The ‘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.
It will first be used on June 30 in the first last-16 match that is likely to see France facing Argentina, Nigeria or Iceland in Kazan.
Adidas claimed 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 clubs 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. England striker Kane leads the race for the Golden Boot on five goals with Portugal star Ronaldo and Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku on four each.
At the heart of the balls used in Russia is sustainability, with recycled backing material and packaging used to limit its environmental footprint.