Ball Watching

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 September, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 01 September, 2000, 12:00am

Last weekend's Premier League fare reminded us all just what the blood-and-guts English game has over other top domestic competitions. The matches from Upton Park and The Dell included remarkable fightbacks that typify the traditional battling spirit of the game in England.

And, it seems, those qualities are not restricted to home players. Both West Ham's comeback goals were by foreign imports (an Italian and a Croat), and all three of Southampton's were, too (two by a Latvian and one from a Moroccan).

The other aspect highlighted by these matches was the fact that reputations mean nothing in this competition and on any given day any team can win.

Manchester United 2-0 up with four minutes to go? A formality, surely. Liverpool 3-0 up in the second half? It's all over.

But no. And that's one of the secrets of the Premier's success.

There is a suspension of EPL action this weekend because of internationals in Europe.

CABLE SPORTS are going to town with a total of 10 live internationals encompassing games in Europe, Asia and South America.

The Asian games comprise the Four Nation Tournament featuring China, Thailand, Iraq and Uzbekistan. This is a chance to see how China's notoriously underachieving national team are shaping up under Mr Fixit Bora Milutinovic.

Most of the other matches are World Cup qualifiers except for one - that's the France v England friendly match tomorrow night, which is a late addition to the schedules. With Kevin Keegan claiming England 'Can beat anyone' and sundry French players complaining about 'lack of respect' from the English this should be a very competitive game.

That game is on SPORTS Channel 2 (Channel 7 on the remote) because the regular soccer channel was already booked for the Holland v Ireland World Cup qualifier.

We have already been getting live World Cup games from the South American zone for some weeks, including great matches like Brazil v Argentina and Chile v Brazil. But now it's Europe's turn to hit the road to World Cup 2002.

With French cheers still in the air from Euro 2000, the eternal cycle of international competition moves into it's next phase. The action starts tonight with Bulgaria v the Czech Republic who were surely the unluckiest team at Euro 2000. With several players familiar to Premier League and Serie A viewers the Czechs should have too much for a rebuilding Bulgarian side.

CABLE SPORTS' negotiations over Scottish Premier League rights are ongoing. It's a pity they were not sealed in time for last week's Old Firm match, which was one of the most remarkable in recent history as Celtic upset the order of the universe with a 6-2 win. Maybe reports of that match will inspire CABLE to hasten a deal on the SPL.