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Football - Euro 2004

Football - Euro 2004

By Nimish Dubey

Euro 2004, the premier football tournament in Europe, will be getting underway from June 12. The tournament will feature sixteen of Europe’s top national teams and in terms of quality is considered by many to be on par with the World Cup itself.

Subscribers to our general awareness newsletter, The CAB, will receive exclusive coverage of this tournament through a newsletter – The GoalPost (CAB edition). Like the CAB, this e-mail service too is free of cost.

Apart from featuring routine information like scores and statistics, this newsletter will feature lots of trivia, relevant web links and above all, will give you a humorous perspective of the tournament and its key players, from Beckham to Zidane to Figo. The attempt will be to entertain as well as inform, because notwithstanding the words of football legend Bill Shankly (“Football is not a matter of life and death. It is much more than that.”), we feel that below all the glitz and the glamour, football is just a game.

The first issue of The GoalPost (Enableall Edition) will arrive in  your inbox on 12 June afternoon. It will subsequently be sent out after every stage of group matches, the quarter finals, the semi- finals and of course, the final. There will also be a special round up of the tournament. All in all, you will be receiving eight issues of The GoalPost (Enableall Edition) over the period of the tournament ( 12 June to 4 July).

If you do not wish to receive The GoalPost (Enableall edition), drop us a mail at with the words ‘Unsubscribe GoalPost’ in the subject. If you know a friend who would be interested in receiving this newsletter, send us his/her e-mail ID and he/she will be included in the list of subscribers.

The Enableall team

Euro 2004: Round 5: It's the final countdown!

It's Greece and Portugal in the finals! Read this edition to read how it has inspired Nimish to rewrite the script of Troy, and what Payal thinks of the hindi commentary of what went on the field.
Read this edition on the fifth round of Euro 2004

Euro 2004: Round 4: Getting to that semi-stage

Portugal edge out England, Greeks send the French home, Netherlands slip past Sweden, and the Czechs continue their dream run by ending that of the Danes. This and a lot more in this edition.
Read getting to that semi stage

Euro 2004: Round 3: Hung, drawn and quarter-finaled

England trounces Croatia, France thrashes Switzerland, Czech Republic sends Germany home. This and much more in this edition on the third round of Euro 2004 matches.
Read Euro 2004 third edition

Euro 2004: Round 2: When minnows swim and whales sink!

Read this edition for the second round of Euro 2004 matches. This covers England's goal battery on Switzerland, Croatia's surprising draw with Czech win over Holland.
Read Euro 2004 second edition

Euro 2004: Round 1: Psst... has anyone seen the form book?

Read this edition for the first round of Euro 2004 matches. This covers England's loss to France, Greece's win over Portugal and Swedish goal battery on Bulgaria.
Read Euro 2004 first edition

Euro 2004: Curtain Raiser

Our witty sports experts take a peek at what's on offer at Euro 2004 Football championship
Read Curtain Raiser...

Euro 2004: Curtain Raiser

THE GOAL POST EnableAll Edition
12 June 2004

Note: For the uninitiated, ND = Nimish Dubey, and PD = Payal Dhar. Two people who have nothing better to do than argue with each other.

Curtain Raiser: ND and PD take a peek at what's on offer at Euro 2004:

Group A: Portugal, Spain, Greece, Russia
ND: They should call this the off-colour group - none of the teams in it are in any kind of form. Portugal have the personnel but are firing blanks, one never knows which version of Spain will show up, Russia have developed a tradition of choking in big tournaments and as for Greece, well, how can one take a team which has a certain Dabizas in its defence seriously? I would favour Spain and Portugal going through this one, provided their much-hyped personnel deliver!

PD: It looks like one will have to tread the path less travelled, that is, agree with ND on this one! Even though quite a bit of the spotlight is on the hosts Portugal, I'd really like to see what Spain get up to. With Raul having had a rather forgettable season, it is safe to assume that things are set for a turnaround, and on that could well rest Spain's chances. And if nothing works out, at least one can depend on Nikos Dabizas entertaining us with his skills. He calls it defending; we call it many other things, mostly in different combinations of four letters.
Group B: France, Switzerland, England, Croatia
ND: If you read the press, you would think this group is all about England and France. You could not be more wrong! Croatia are dangerous floaters and Switzerland are an immaculately organised side. France are favourites here – their squad has
phenomenal depth and any team with an attack force comprising Henry, Zidane, Trezeguet, Pires and Vieira has got to start favourites. However, I am going to antagonise all our UK subscribers by predicting that Croatia will accompany Les Blues into the quarterfinals. I honestly cannot see England beating France in the opening match of the group. And beating both Switzerland and Croatia might prove to be a bit too much for Erikkson’s men. A word about the Beckham vs Zidane match-up –
the only department in which the much-tattooed English skipper matches Zizou is in the quantity of hair on his head!

PD: This is PD's favourite group – so what if her favourite pair of legs is no longer considered worthy of selection. Defending champions France certainly look the most impressive team on paper - not too difficult if you have a certain Zinedine Zidane in your line-up, but that would be doing many others a grave injustice. Even though England are going for the ... yawn... tried, tested, failed and given-up tactic of unsettling the opposition with taunts, they have only managed to tickle so far. Eriksson has not particularly impressed me and I don't see much hope for England, though I think they will qualify from the group with France.
Group C: Sweden, Denmark, Bulgaria, Italy
ND: Forget all that mumbo-jumbo about Group D being the Group of Death. In my book, this is the toughest group of them all. At any other time, Italy would have been overwhelming favourites to go through but the Azzuri have been beset by coaching eccentricities that make Iraq look well-governed! Far too much hope has been pinned on the triumvirate of Del Piero, Vieri and Totti. Denmark and Sweden look well-balanced, although neither seems likely to go all the way. Bulgaria could put a spanner in the works of the other teams. They work hard and could easily prove to be a pain to the other three teams. My money is on Italy and Denmark making it through.

PD: To be honest, I know absolutely nothing about Bulgaria. So when they win the competition, please forget I said that. Groups C and D certainly look more competitive, but given the loony uncertainties of sport, who knows, they might turn out to be the most one-sided! I will go out on a limb and risk reputation by saying Italy and Denmark will go through. Oops... that is exactly what ND has predicted. Okay, then, Sweden and Bulgaria. Just kidding, folks!
Group D: Czech Republic, Germany, Latvia, Netherlands
ND: The media would have us believe that this is the Group of Death. Well, the only death that is likely to occur here is that of Ollie Kahn if he slips into   butterfingers mode! If one has to be dreadfully honest, one cannot see beyond the
Czechs and the Dutch in this group. Czech Republic can call on the likes of Nedved, Poborsky and Kohler while Holland are brimming with talent – van Nistelrooy, Kluivert, Davids, Seedorf...the list goes on. Unfortunately, the Dutch are also
brimming over with disputes and that could land them in hot water. Germany look lackadaisical and will need divine inspiration or some really poor football from the other teams to go through. Latvia? Well, methinks they are still stunned at
having come this far!
PD: Oliver Kahn has perhaps made enough mistakes this season to fulfil his entire career's quota. Which makes Germany a most difficult side to look beyond. Even though ND calls for divine inspiration for them, I am tempted to think otherwise. After all, how much can they sink? As for the Dutch, their abundance of talent makes one blush. These two sides will go through, according to my crystal ball. And I am not putting any money on Latvia pulling off an upset!
Offside: Trivia

The European football championships seem to be the tournament of choice for most teams in search of their first big win. Sounds hard to believe? Well, guess what was the first major tournament won by the (now defunct) USSR? Or by France? Or Denmark? Or Czechoslovakia? Or Spain? Or Yugoslavia? The Euro it was. So, here's a hot tip: when putting your money on a team to cart away the trophy, pick a side that has never won anything major in the past. We guess that makes Greece and Latvia firm favourites (ND and PD faint from shock at their own revelation).
Net Crackers: Best of the Web

David Beckham might detest the sight of the English media but there's no denying that they do an excellent job of covering football tournaments. So if you are looking at some good previews to Euro 2004, here are some places you can head to:
When it comes to doling out information, does anyone do it better than the Beeb? We don’t think so.
The Guardian’s wonderfully comprehensive look at Euro 2004 with features, statistics, and lots of tongue-in-cheek comment
The dirt on all the teams? It has got to be The Sun! For a tabloid take on the tournament, head to,,2004130002,00.html.   Statutory warning: some of the content here could be inappropriate for impressionable minds!
And for those wishing to get the official view, there is always UEFA’s Euro web site at And do let ND know if you manage to confirm your registration for the Fantasy Football section. He has been struggling to do so for nearly a week!

Throw us out/send us money

Don’t like us? How dare we take up inbox space? Or you love us and would like to leave us all your money, Swiss chalet and oil wells? Whatever you have to say, press the reply button to contact either ND or PD.

To unsubscribe, write to with ‘Unsubscribe’ as the subject. Remember, we won’t like you after that.


Euro 2004: Round 2: When minnows swim and whales sink!

(Apologies for the day's delay. All we can say is that we are being kept very bust by some of our subscribers who seem determined to make us mend our ways!!)

As the big names seem set to depart Euro 2004, ND gets inspired by the Fab Four

(Sung to the tune of the Beatle's immortal hit "Yesterday". You haven't heard it? What have you been doing with your life?)

Spain was sent packing on its away
It may be joined by England or France today,
And day after,
Italy may board the train.

After that
It could be the turn of Germany
If they survive
Out will go the Dutch team
Its rum the way things turn out to be.

Why they had to go
Is pretty clear – they just couldn't play
All they had were 'stars'
With fat packets of pay (Yay! Yay! Yay!)

Footy was for them an easy game
Now they need a place to hide away
From fans who for their blood do bay.

As the big guns leave
Spare a look for those who stay
The Greeks, the Czechs, the Portugese
And the press who said they would fail!

You could say who with the cup would walk away
But this Euro has silenced a few brays
You need more than hype to win the day.

Hmmm….hmmm…hmmmm, etc. (fade away and dive gracefully into the wings
to duck the rotten tomatoes)


PD is snowed under so much work that she is barely being able to watch the matches on TV. Add to that the heartbreak of   Raul's departure and Owen's loss of form, and the lower limbs of Steve McManaman, and you will understand why she cannot  contribute her bit to this issue. She will be back, fear not!

Scores and scorers:

Group A:
Portugal 1 (Gomes) Spain 0
Russia 2 (Kirichenko, Bulykin) Greece 1 (Vryzas)
Spain 1(Morientes) Greece 1(Charisteas)
Portugal 2(Maniche, Costa) Russia 0

Group B:
England 3 (Rooney, Stiel [og], Gerrard) Switzerland 0
France 2 (Tudor [og], Trezeguet ) Croatia 2 (Rapaic, Prso)

Group C:
Italy 1 (Cassano) Sweden 1 (Ibrahimovic)
Denmark (Tomasson, Gronkjaer) 2 Bulgaria 0

Group D
Germany 0 Latvia 0
Czech Republic 3 (Baros, Koller, Smicer) Holland 2 (Bouma, van Nistelrooy)

Sent off: Ovchinnikov (Russia), Haas (Switzerland), Heitinga(Holland)
Not sent off: Nedved (Czech Republic), Rooney (England)

Offside: Trivia

What do Portugal, Bulgaria, Russia, England, and the Czech Republic have in common? Well, they are the only teams out of the sixteen playing in Euro 2004 who have not drawn a match so far in the tournament! And while on the subject of draws, only two days have passed in the tournament without a draw – the first day and yesterday ( 20 June). Both days featured group A matches!

Net Crackers: Best of the Web

PD and Uncle Sven may swear by him, but many are beginning to have doubts about Michael Owen. The Guardian's Richard Williams  tales a closer look at the English striker who seems to be a pale shadow of his 1998 version.,14577,1243652,00.html

As everyone is going loony over Rooney, the BBC's John May looks at the records he has set and compares him with other English strikers.

More of Owen and Rooney. Rio Ferdinand claims in The Sun that the Roo is maturing faster as an international player than Mickey did. Do you want to trust the memory of a man who forgot to take a dope test because he was out shopping? Why is it included here if we think it so daft? Well, we just thought you would like to know. If you do, head to,,2002390000-2004281860,00.html

Throw us out/send us money

Don't like us? How dare we take up inbox space? Or you love us and would like to leave us all your money, Swiss chalet and oil wells? Whatever you have to say, press the reply button to contact either ND or PD.

To unsubscribe, write to with 'Unsubscribe' as the subject. Remember, we won't like you after that.


Euro 2004: Round 4: Getting to that semi-stage

ND and PD reopen the X-Files
[Launch with traditional X-Files music: Hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo... (stops abruptly as PD smacks ND on head with boot). The setting is a dark room, littered with files. There is no one present, except for Mulder, who is looking through a file at his desk, lit by a table lamp. Scully enters and ambles over ("Action!" screams ND before being laid low by an equally low blow from PD).]
Scully: Working late, as usual? What have you got there?
Mulder: A report just came in from Europe...
Scully [raises an eyebrow]: Not another abominable snowman in the Urals?
Mulder: No. This is much more...intriguing, I would say. It is from Portugal.
Scully [with her usual know-it-all toss of the head]: Western Europe, warm climate, powerful naval tradition, colonised parts of India in the last century... right! What does it say?
Mulder: It has something to do with a European soccer competition being held there. There have been reports of some paranormal phenomenon reported there.
Scully [with a sigh]: Mulder, I want to believe, but... there is no scientific evidence to disprove that soccer...
Mulder [stands up to tower over Scully and look down at her with his trademark half-smirk, half-smile]: It is something to do with a man called [he checks his papers] David Beckham...
Scully [irritably]: Not another one! Listen, Mulder, lots of men wear women's underwear, that does not make it a paranormal event. Anyway, we have already checked him out -- he cannot be an alien -- we have documentary evidence that his intelligence is subhuman anyway...
Mulder [interrupts]: It is not that type of information. Evidently, strange things have been happening to him in Portugal. Especially when he takes penalties.
Scully: Penalties? He is in jail -- perhaps he has found his place...
Mulder: No, it is a soccer term. [Goes back to his terminal, accesses the Web, explains to Scully as he reads the screen] Evidently, the penalty is a soccer ritual in which a player is allowed to kick the ball at the goal from a short distance. Only the goalkeeper can defend the goal and he has to do so without moving forward from the line that joins the two goal posts.
Scully [raises eyebrow again]: Fascinating stuff. Can't they just pick up the ball and carry it over the goal line?
Mulder [testily]: Why do you think? The British invented the game. Anyway, in most cases, a penalty results in a goal.
Scully [looking at her watch]: Are you going to get to the point, Mulder? Otherwise the corpse I have to perform an autopsy on will rot.
Mulder [ignoring comment; pushing thoughts of throwing up firmly to back of his mind]: Scully, Beckham has not been able to score from penalties. [Dramatic music] He has missed his last three. [Abrupt silence]
Scully [bringing the dramatic build-up down with a crash]: Could it just be a loss of form? Bad luck?
Mulder [shaking his head]: Three times, Scully, three times. He has missed three times consecutively.
Scully: There is something you are not telling me, Mulder.
Mulder [with the smirk of a man about to make a spectacular revelation]: Well, it seems that whenever he runs in to take a penalty, some unexplained topographical manifestations occur. The area either gets slippery, or the ground shifts as he is about to kick the ball, or the area becomes uneven. What is amazing is that this does not seem to affect other people taking penalties from the same spot.
Scully: That seems...illogical. What affects one player should affect others.
Mulder: That's my point, Scully. In a recent match between England and Portugal, a total of fourteen penalties were taken. Only two were missed and one was saved. But of the two misses, only one occurred because of irregular ground behaviour. Guess who took that kick?
Scully [trying desperately not to believe]: Beckham?
Mulder: Spot on. He says that the ball was actually moving as he ran in to kick it. [Picks up a paper] Evidently there is footage showing this -- some Dutch players claim to have noticed it as well! And, Scully?
Scully: Yes?
Mulder: Two of the three penalties that he has missed took place after he had a crucifix tattooed on the back of his neck!
Scully [raises eyebrow for considerably longer period and finally looks impressed]: Is it what I think it means?
Mulder: Yes, the X-Files will have to be reopened!
Scully: And that means...
Mulder [punching air]: A whole new season, with all of Beckham's sponsors wanting an advertising slot.
Scully [a smile lighting up her face]: As they say in some circles, rock on! Let's go to Portugal and rake in the moolah.
[Mulder and Scully do a quick jig before recovering their poise and going out of the room to the same hoo-hoo music that came at the beginning!
ND and PD open their wallets and wait for producers to throng their doorstep asking for the rights to the story...]

Final Whistle: Scores and scorers
Portugal 2 (Postiga, Costa) - England 2 (Owen, Lampard)
(Portugal won 6-5 on penalties)
Greece 1 (Charisteas) France 0
Netherlands 0 - Sweden 0
(Netherlands won 5-4 on penalties)
Czech Republic 3 (Koller, Barros 2) - Denmark 0

Sent off: None
Not sent off: None (really getting to be a gentleman's game, this!)

Offside: Trivia
The Czech Republic's 3-0 win over Denmark contained a number of firsts - it was the first time a team had won four consecutive matches at Euro 2004, it was the first time the Czechs had kept a clean sheet and quite amazingly, it was the first time in the tournament that the Czechs had scored before their opponents had! Clearly, this is one record-breaking team.

Net Crackers: Best of the Web
Martin Amis comes down heavily on the English team, saying that any success at Euro 2004 would have only prolonged an illusion.,14584,1248867,00.html

The BBC's Phil McNulty feels that Scolari has replaced Luis Figo as Portugal's football icon. We will find out how long that lasts after tonight's match but until then, read the article at

Richard Williams hails Stephen Gerrard's loyalty to his club (yup, the red one that ND supports).,4284,1250493,00.html

Throw us out/send us money
Don't like us? How dare we take up inbox space? Or you love us and would like to leave us all your money, Swiss chalet and oil wells? Whatever you have to say, press the reply button to contact either ND or PD.
To unsubscribe, write to [e-mail] with 'Unsubscribe' as the subject. Remember, we won't like you after that.


Euro 2004: Round 1: Psst... has anyone seen the form book?

ND sees a goalscoring English midfielder blubbering... and joins him

What a world this is, mate, what a world! Bald blokes score goals in injury time, visitors abuse hospitality, teams show no respect for recent form... and yes, yes, some teams insist on singing after they win matches. I mean, they should sing when they lose, right? Just like the heroes in Hindi films. The blokes get tight as owls, gamble away all their money, chase their dames away and top it off by singing sad songs. But let Hindi films be. Let's talk of the first round of Euro 2004, which has been marked by what can only be describe as extreme ingratitude.
Take those chaps from Greece, for instance. Did someone not tell them that the whole tournament would collapse if the hosts got stretchered out in the preliminary stages? Did someone not tell them that they should stand aside and let Figo, Torres and Ronaldo pepper them with goals? Well, trust a team from the land of Alexander the Great to abuse hospitality. Those lads have occupation in their blood. Poor Portugal must be wondering what hit them...and what else will hit them if they do not manage to qualify for the next round! And what of Denmark? Surely they had no
business giving three-time World champs such a fright! Of course, there were some teams that ensured that events ran to form. Those nice Russians allowed Spain to nick three points and at the time of writing had sent back their best player, Alexander Mostovoi, to improve Portugal's chances of reaching the next round.
Which brings us to your team. I hope someone reports Zidane to the UN Commission of Human Rights for the cruelty he meted out to you. Here you were doing your best to keep the match alive by sitting back and defending and giving France a chance (your skipper even missed a penalty) and what does mister Zizou do but make the net bulge in extra time. Not once, but twice! Hell, did not someone tell him that Becks was the star here? And then the French had the effrontery to celebrate the win, instead of thanking you guys for allowing them to command the midfield and giving a special pat to uncles Emil and Steven for creating goal-scoring opportunities. A cruel world it is, a cruel world.
I can understand your pain. I had predicted that Greece had no chance of getting a win, that Holland would hammer Germany, that Latvia would be thumped by the Czechs. In fact, but for you guys, I would have ended up with mud all over my face!
A sad world, Frank! No wonder you feel tempted to end it all in the local gutter. You don't? Well, you might change your mind after the match against Croatia.

PD profiles party-poopers

Send the Greeks to the top of the class in that subject. Clearly, they have no manners. Their mothers never told about not abusing hospitality, and they had the nerve to go and stun Portugal in the opener. Of course, Dabizas being injured might have had something to do with that, just might. There is a lesson over there for the Greek side, there is.

Given that a considerable proportion of Goal Post's subscribers belong to the England fan club, one shall desist from mentioning a certain Spock-ish looking midfielder who gave new meaning to the term 'adding insult to injury [time]'. David Beckham's unimaginative hairstyle and brainless comments, coupled with Steven Gerard's moment of madness, make talking about England a rather painful exercise. But with Nicky Butt on his way back home, things can only get better, right?

Even games that went as per expectation - and let us be pretty clear here that that included France beating England - threw up a few surprises. I mean to say, even though this is not the first time the Swedes have put am embarrassing scoreline across the Bulgarians, 5-0 was a bit of an extra cherry on the topping.

Latvia had the gall to start getting a few ideas of their own before the blundering Czech forwards finally found the net and three points, and Russia gave Spain a goodish run for their money despite a 1-0 loss. And honestly, most of us expected the Dutch to give the groping Oliver Kahn's Germans' noses a jolly good rub in the mud...

Two teams that I intend to keep an close eye on are Denmark and Switzerland. Both sides played some neat attractive football in their respective matches. After all, who would have backed the Danes to hold the relatively more fancied Italians to a draw?

England versus France might be done and dusted, but there are a few clashes lined up for the next round that could knit eyebrows in interested speculation. Things will get rather interested in Group A if Greece can hang on for a draw against Spain. In Group B England should get desperate if they are unable to beat the Swiss [something PD is not putting money on (NOTE: Unsubscription requests from English subscribers will NOT be entertained this week!)].

In Group C, if Denmark roger Bulgaria, but Italy are not able to beat Sweden, things should hot up. As for Group D, my money is still on Holland and Germany making it (but I am keeping a fig leaf or two handy to hide behind if needed!)

Final Whistle: Scores and scorers:

Portugal 1(Ronaldo) - Greece 2(Karadounis, Bassinas)
Spain 1 (Valeron)- Russia 0
Croatia 0 - Switzerland 0
France 2(Zidane 2) - England 1(Lampard)
Italy 0 - Denmark 0
Sweden 5(Ljunberg, Larsson 2, Ibramovich, Allback) - Bulgaria 0
Czech Republic (Barros, Heinz) 2 - Latvia 1(Verpakoviskis)
Germany 1(Frings)- Netherlands 1(van Nistelrooy)
Sent off: Sharonov (Russ=a), Vogel (Switzerland)
Not sent off: Lampard (England), James (England), Silvestre
Offside: Trivia

Quite incredibly, England have never won their opening match in any of the European championships so far. They came within minutes of changing that against France. But Zidane had other ideas.
Net Crackers: Best of the Web
"There is a problem - and he is called Sven-Goran Eriksson" says the BBC's Tom Fordyce as he points out what the English must do to stay in the running for Euro 2004.

The Guardian's Richard Williams stress what PD and ND knew all along - you can never write off Germany and Oliver Kahn!,14577,1239761,00.html
The FA gave England goalkeeper David James a whole set of free-kick videotapes to study. Guess who they forgot to add to the collection? Zidane! Trust The Sun to come out with the story!,,2002390000-2004272343,00.html
"What the f**k" happened to England, wails Football 365 and comes out with its own series of "What the f**k" moments of the England-France match. Not the most parliamentary language we have heard but we understand the sentiment.

Throw us out/send us money

Don’t like us? How dare we take up inbox space? Or you love us and would like to leave us all your money, Swiss chalet and oil wells? Whatever you have to say, press the reply button to contact either ND or PD.

To unsubscribe, write to with ‘Unsubscribe’ as the subject. Remember, we won’t like you after that


Euro 2004: Round 3: Hung, drawn and quarter-finaled

PD contemplates ending life:

Sometimes, there is a very thin line between laughing and crying. We have travelled it.

If there were ever a competition for taking a good thing and totally wrecking it, ESPN-STAR TV in India would win hands down. We had been looking forward to the Euro for ages. We put aside time from our more-generous-with-paying-for-our-services acquaintances to do the Goal Post because we thought a thing of joy should be shared. Well, then, obviously, we had no idea that Hindi commentary would be thrust upon us and what a torture it would be.

What's wrong with Hindi commentary, you ask? Everything. To begin with, in spite of the big names they have lined up for the commentary team, the quality is so poor that we shall: (a) have to come up with new words to describe it; or (b) use some already existing ones that would surely lose us our small but valued under-18 subscribership.

They don't know the names of players; they seem unable to analyse the play; they love David "Bake Ham"; they think Michael "Oven" is past it; they praise a player called 'Gronekar'; they speak about "Sweden's coach of England" (well, you need to know the language to appreciate this one: "Sweden ke coach England ke, Sven Goran Eriksson"!); they have come up with a new position in football called "left out" and, no, it does not refer to the bench!

Whenever England plays, Bake Ham always makes "great crosses", which includes booting the ball straight down the middle of the field. One favourite comment about him is, "What a terrific pass, but no one was there to receive it!" And Michael Oven can do no right!

ND and I are having this unique experience of agreeing with our cable operator! Even he admits that the commentary is cr*p, but apparently cannot help us. That our TV is in one piece is surely a miracle.

The other night, when Group C was decided, the Italians were crying on the pitch. Everyone in the stadium and the TV audience could see that, but those two clots went on and on and on and on about waiting to see what the result of the other game was to see if Italy had gone through.

And get this: Not one of them can speak correct Hindi! They translated the Stadium of Light as the Stadium of Ink ("roshni"=light; but they called it "roshnai"=ink!). They even greet their listeners with "namashkar" when the correct term in "namaskar". Gender, tense and pronunciation have all been red-carded away. Those of you who do not know Hindi, but speak French, may appreciate how ludicrous the gender confusion might be. For instance, in Hindi the ball is feminine - no snide giggles - and referring to it otherwise would be like saying, "Referee Collina looks at her watch and blows her whistle." Yes you can laugh now.

A good thing that has come out of it is that we have had to hear the geographical area and the population of each country participating in the competition so many times, that we could write an encyclopaedia on it!

What makes the state of affairs quite pathetic is that we are talking about some well-known Indian footballers here. And one of the commentators is a well-known sports journalist (he is excellent on football but only in English as far as we know).

For now, we have set phasers on "grin and bear it".

Go Denmark and Tomasson! (Oh, don't mind me. You cannot be forced to listen to this and retain your sanity.)

[...Meanwhile, ND surreptitiously adds Jon Dahl's name to his hit list.]

As fans gets puzzled by group qualifying laws, ND suggests alternative legislation:

Blame it all on UEFA! As the group stage of Euro 2004 entered its final round of matches, thousands of fans were seen scratching their heads as they tried to figure out what their teams needed to do to qualify. Well, the reason for this confusion was the new legislation which replaced the good old 'goal difference' rule. In the past, if two or more teams ended with the same number of points, the team with the highest goal difference (goals scored minus goals conceded) would go through. Pretty simple, aye? Well, such simplicity in this complex world cleared jarred UEFA and so out they came with a whole new set of qualifying criteria. Now, if two or more teams finish on the same number of points, the result of the match between the teams would be given precedence. And if things were still tied, the team that scored more goals would go through. If that is simpler and fairer than goal difference, then I need to see a shrink!

In my ["fantasy" adds PD] position as football pundit (a position that is increasingly under threat as England ensure that all my predictions go wrong), I thought that it was only fair that I come up with alternative ways of deciding which teams go through in case they end up with the same number of points. If UEFA does implement any of these, you will know who gave them the idea.

1. Football is the people's game. Therefore, the team with the greater population should be given preference.
2. Football is, first and foremost, all about the fans. The team with the greatest contingent of fans should go through. Of course, the hosts automatically go through!!
3. Winning is not everything in football. To stress this point, the team that has won more matches should be booted out.
4. Football should promote equality. The team with the most drawn matches, therefore, goes through to the next round - a just reward for its refusal to belittle the opposition by defeating it.
5. One of the aims of football is to bring people closer to each other and build long-lasting relationships. So the team with the most yellow and red cards should be given passage to the next round. After all, one cannot commit a foul unless one is really close to the victim and as for the relationship part, surely one can never forget a person who has inflicted so much physical pain on one's person.
6. Most of the money in football is generated by television. Hence, the team with the better television network should go through.
7. As television is so essential, we should ensure that all visuals are of the highest quality. So, if teams are tied on the same number of points, they should walk up and down on a ramp, sporting their kits. The team with the most visually appealing kit goes through! A beauty contest of the players is also an option, especially as it will give PD an opportunity to leer at the players' limbs!! [PD is outraged; ND gets the couch tonight.]
8. Media support is another pillar on which football rests. The team that gives the best press conferences should be allowed to go to the next round (Tip: hire Claudio Ranieri as your coach and you can forget about results).
9. Advertising is essential for the game to survive. The team that endorses more products should go through.
10. Finances are essential for the development of football. Accordingly, teams should be allowed to bid for places in the next round. The team with the highest bid goes through. The money bid by the team is to be used to promote football in developing countries!

Final Whistle: Scores and scorers

Group A
[Refer to previous issue... we are too distressed with the commentary situation to do any extra work.]

Group B
England 4(Pel... oops, Rooney 2, Scholes, Lampard) - Croatia 2 (N Kovac, Tudor)
France 3(Zidane, Henry 2) - Switzeland 1(Vonlathen)

Group C
Denmark 2(Tomasson 2) - Sweden 2(Jonson, Larsson)
Italy 2(Cassano, Perrotta) - Bulgaria 1(Petrov)

Group D
Czech Republic 2 (Heinz, Barros) - Germany 1 (Ballack)
Holland 3 (van Nistelrooy 2, Makay) - Latvia 0

Offside: Trivia

In the midst of all the hype surrounding Wayne Rooney, people forgot to pay attention to Switzerland's Johann Vonlathen. The Swiss forward broke Rooney's record of being the youngest player to score a goal in the European championships when he slotted his team's only goal against France. Of course, no one is calling him the new Pele and he is not even on Uncle Roman's shopping list at Chelsea. Talk about biased media.

Net Crackers: Best of the Web

As Roonymania grips England, the BBC has come out with a diary monitoring the media circus surrounding the teen sensation. To flick through it, go to

Thought we had forgotten the Premiership in all the hoo-ha surrounding Euro 2004? How wrong you were! The Premiership schedule for the 2004-05 season has been announced - it kicks off with no less than Fergie versus Mourinho... oops, Man Utd versus Chelsea. Get it at

Azzuri goalkeeper Buffo(o)n might think that there was a conspiracy to knock the Italians out of Euro 2004, but the Guradian's James Richardson is not buying that! Read more at,14584,1246502,00.html

He is among the few people to have played in World Cup finals as a player and as a coach. But it all went badly wrong for Rudi Voeller as his team stumbled against the inspired Czechs. Read Phil McNulty's post-mortem of the Voeller era at

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Euro 2004: Round 5: It's the final countdown!

Inspired by the Greeks' show, ND rewrites Troy:

Setting: A Greek camp outside the walls of Troy. Some soldiers are playing football with a pig's bladder, others are betting on them. A physician is busy attending to the wounds of a player who was hit in the tender regions by the bladder. Zoom in to a tent with a banner bearing the words "You'll never walk alone" flying above it. Inside the tent, a council of war is underway. King Agamemnon is holding council with Odysseus the clever, the wise Nestor, the brave Brad...whoops...Achilles, the wronged Melenaus and the mighty Ajax.

Agamemnon: We need to decide this fast. We have been camped outside their walls for almost a fortnight now. UEFA might ban us if we fall behind schedule.
Odysseus: Well, we could follow my plan...
Agamemnon: Silence! Here we are trying to rescue the world's most beautiful game...
Others (reciting reverently): The game that launched a thousand kicks!
Agamemnon: (waves his hand irritably to silence the chanting) Yes, yes! But to return to the subject, we are committed to rescuing the game from the Trojans. And all you can think of is colossal wooden horses. Is there no end to your perversion, man?
Odysseus: (heatedly) Perversion? You bring us to this foreign land, miles away from our families, televisions and football agents, just because the Trojans filched one of our football players without paying us a transfer fee?
Achilles (jumps to his feet): Shame on you, Odysseus. Shame that you even entertain such thoughts. What would the world say if we had not besieged Troy - that all it takes to get Greece's top player is a spell in Paris? (Nestor titters but shuts up when Melenaus glares at him) And what of poor Melenaus? They took his most prized possession, without paying him so much as a farthing! How will Greek football agents survive if their players are stolen like this?
Melenaus (mutters angrily): Just when I was negotiating a transfer with Barcelona...
Odysseus (cynically): Well, his 'most prized possession' did not go unwillingly, I hear...
Melenaus (angrily): What do you mean, Odysseus? I certainly did not will it...
Agamemnon (shouts angrily): Be quiet, the lot of you! I call on the wise Nestor to suggest a course of action.
Nestor (thoughtfully): Well...we could always challenge them to a game of football.
Agamemnon: Truly that is wise council. But what if we lose? Have they not the mighty Hector in the centre of defence?
Nestor: And have we not the brave Achilles, destined to earn fame at a young age like Pele, Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen? And what of the powerful Ajax after whom a Dutch club has been named? Doubt not your own men, o king!
Ajax (jumps up, thumps his chest mightily and sits down with a coughing fit): Well spoken. Bring on the Trojans.
Odysseus: I still think that with a few carpenters...
Agamemnon (roars): That's enough Odysseus! And since you be so keen on wooden horses, I assign you the task of marking Hector in the match!
Odysseus: Nooooooooooooooo (faints and is carried away to the physician's tent)
Agamemnon: Revive him and get him fit for the match. And send word to the Trojans that we challenge them to a match of football.
(All cheer loudly and leave the tent. Nestor takes Achilles aside as they disperse)
Nestor: Achilles, you are the bravest of the brave. None can match your skill, courage and dexterity. Why then are you so silent?
Achilles: (moodily) Hm...? Oh nothing really! It is just that I have been having some problems with my heel! I guess I will just play through it and hope that it does not trip me up!
(Scream from physician's tent as Odysseus receives treatment. Nestor and Achilles smile and walk away)

Totally de-inspired by Hindi commentary, PD tries to share her grief:

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