Ball Watching

PUBLISHED : Friday, 03 November, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 03 November, 2000, 12:00am

Manchester United are on this weekend. No surprise there you might think. But the away Premier League match against Coventry tomorrow (CABLE SPORTS 1, live at 10.30pm) is not even the half of it.

For, in recent weeks, CABLE TV have enhanced their commitment to United fandom by daily airing of Red Hot TV, a United-only news show, produced by United's own television channel and aired from a studio at Old Trafford, overlooking the pitch.

If this club are not becoming bigger than the game then they're very close to it. The Red Hot TV agenda is a simple one - Man Utd overload. And it manages it quite well, covering reserve and youth team games, interviewing players and doing behind-the-scenes reports.

CABLE believe their audience cannot get enough of United. The channel already have their own Man Utd Party show which they put together themselves. Now they're getting a daily news update from the horse's mouth.

That 10.30pm start time or pre-match coverage from Highfield Road is a reminder that the clocks went back in the UK last week so that there is an eight-hour differential from Hong Kong once again. This adds a little inconvenience to the viewers in the SAR, especially when it comes to the Monday night/Tuesday morning match, which this week will be Derby v West Ham.

CABLE have a three-way clash of live Euro matches tomorrow. The Coventry-Man Utd match overlaps with a Serie A game and a Bundesliga match, all live.

Fiorentina host Perugia on CABLE Sports 2. The Florentines no longer have the drawing power of Gabriel Batistuta but new signing Nuno Gomez, who starred for Portugal during Euro 2000, has made a lively start for the men in purple. The German match is on CABLE Channel 21 and sees Kaiserslautern at home to the best-supported side in the country, Schalke 04.

STAR Sports continues to champion Asian soccer. The satellite station's comprehensive coverage of the Asian Cup concluded with a dramatic final between Japan and Saudi Arabia.

This week sees the start of the Tiger Cup tournament, for southeast Asian countries who are members of the ASEAN football federation. The field is reduced to nine teams since Brunei withdrew, meaning one of the preliminary groups will have five teams, the other four. Some mismatches are likely, too.

If it's anywhere near as compelling as the previous tournament in Vietnam two years ago it will be worth watching. That was the occasion of a remarkable group match between Thailand and Indonesia. Both teams knew the winner would have to face the host nation in the semi-final if they won. So each team played as if to lose. The deciding goal was one of the oddest in memory as the Indonesians passed the ball back all the way to their own net. Their fears proved unfounded as Singapore beat the Vietnamese in the final.