The last month has been a blur of late nights, too much studio make-up, at least 20 different ties, professional catering with a unique Malaysian flavour, and, of course, top class football. So that was the 19th Fifa World Cup.
I got to the end of my long journey in the early hours of Monday July 12th as host and executive producer of Astro’s South Africa coverage, broadcasting to Malaysia, Brunei and Thailand.
It began on Friday, June 11th (with rehearsals on June 4th and June 7th) with the opening ceremony. Thirty-one days later – encompassing sixty-four matches (I personally hosted 57) – it finally ended.
We had former England stars Lee Sharpe and Tony Cottee as our visiting experts, backed up by our in-house pundit Abbas Saad plus a support cast of Malaysian football identities that included Sabah coach Gary Phillips, ex-Sabah striker Scott Ollerenshaw, Asian Football Confederation coaching analyst Bojan Hodak and former Scotland league player Martin Tierney.
Providing the feminine touch were our FourFourTwo Predictor hosts Jay Menon, Natalie Kniese and Linora Low who relayed the statistics and expert tips ahead of each night’s matches.
And our reporter Roshan Narayan captured the atmosphere on the streets of Kuala Lumpur with his field reports while diligently filling in for me as host for seven of the games, including the Third Place Playoff on July 11th.
The coverage went down well, with Astro recording some of its highest ratings in a long time. It seemed that everywhere you looked around Malaysia – whether it was a restaurant, hotel or one of the thousands of beloved Mamak Stalls – a World Cup game or replay was being shown.
It was fun working with our visitors from England. Lee Sharpe played for Manchester United for eight seasons and was a brilliant winger in the Red Devils’ successful teams of the early to mid 1990s. Tony Cottee’s career produced nearly 300 goals and spanned three decades: from his early days with West Ham and Everton to the twilight of his career with Leicester, with whom he won the 2000 English League Cup final at Wembley.
Tony played for Selangor for a few months in 1996-97 and his 71-year-old father Clive accompanied him, just a year or so after undergoing triple heart bypass surgery.
Our sleeping habits (just like our loyal viewers) were turned upside down with our workdays usually finishing after 5am. It was especially gruelling at the start of the tournament – with three games per match-day – which saw us reach the office around 5pm to go on air at 7pm.
It’s a good feeling now to look back on all the games and a successful project completed. We will certainly enjoy our break now and be slightly relieved in the knowledge that this footballing showcase comes around only once every four years.
But not long for our hard-working production team to catch our breath – Astro’s coverage of the English Premier League begins on August 14th.
ABOUT FOURFOURTWO: FourFourTwo is a twice-weekly football highlights and magazine show on Astro SuperSport (Channel 811) and Astro SuperSport 3 (Channel 817), hosted by Jason Dasey and Jay Menon and broadcasting to Malaysia and Brunei. It's the first program of its kind in partnership with the world's most popular football magazine, FourFourTwo, which now publishes a Malaysia edition. The FourFourTwo TV show began in August 2009 and also provides the FourFourTwo Predictor segment in Astro's English Premier League coverage.
ABOUT JASON DASEY: Jason Dasey is host and executive producer on Astro SuperSport. Previously, he was the original anchor of four different international editions of ESPN's SportsCenter and the first Australian sports presenter on global networks, BBC World and CNN International. He is also host and EP of 'Golfing Greats In Their Own Words', a 10-part interview series on the Golf Channel in Malaysia and Singapore. His most recent episodes are with 6-time Major champion Nick Faldo, interviewed at Mission Hills in China and European Ryder Cup stalwart Darren Clarke from his visit to the Maybank Malaysian Open in Kuala Lumpur.