Not such a good sporting weekend if you are English. Beating New Zealand in a rather meaningless cricket test match isn't much consolation after a heavy defeat to the same nation at rugby and a very cruel end to the England vs. France game in Euro 2004.
I didn't stay up and watch the game live, but I can imagine how desperately disappointing it was for anyone who did. Two years ago, I felt very nervous watching England against Argentina, especially after England took the lead. On that occasion, England did hold on to win, but last night it all went wrong. The annoying thing is that it was really two bad mistakes that led to their downfall - a clumsy tackle for the free kick and a terrible back pass combined with a flapping goalkeeper for the penalty. Of course the free kick and the penalty were well taken by Zidane, but he should never have been given those opportunities to score.
Losing to France is no disgrace, but to do so when a victory was there for the taking is so frustrating! The only consolation is that Croatia and Switzerland look so awful that it's hard to see how England could fail to qualify from this group, but they definitely have to win at least one of their next two games, and something (else) is almost bound to go wrong!
Thankfully, although Cable TV have their usual inane programmes, at least the English commentary is unaffected. For the England game they had probably the best football commentator in the UK, the excellent Martin Tyler. I am not sure who was babbling away on ATV World, but it just about summed it up when England scored and neither of their experts seemed to know that it was Frank Lampard who had got the goal.
Meanwhile, Cable TV apparently managed to disable most of the illegal decoders by switching codes just before the opening game. According to Channel News Asia:
Most of the unauthorised decoders were bought from the city's infamous Apliu Street, which sells mainly electronic products -- many of them pirated.
Vendors had boasted they could hack the Cable TV signals by replacing the smart cards installed in decoders for 100 Hong Kong dollars (13 US dollars) whenever the broadcaster changed its signal code, according to the South China Morning Post.
But a man, surnamed Chan, told Ming Pao, that he spent 800 dollars on a decoder from the market and still missed the game. On Sunday afternoon about 70 frustrated buyers of the decoders gathered at the market hoping to get a refund -- but sellers were nowhere to be seen, the reports said.
Presumably they will eventually be able to hack the new code, but it will take time. Meanwhile, viewers will miss out on Euro 2004 (or Euro 20-04 as they called it on Pearl's English news over the weekend). As far as I can see (apart from the delayed transmission of England vs. France tonight) terrestrial coverage is restricted to a brief highlights show in the middle of the night on ATV Home.