Bring it on! Astro Arena’s Euro 2020 hosts Burn and Botak ready to spark debates

If there was a theme song for Astro Arena’s upcoming Euro 2020 coverage, it would be Randy Newman’s The Great Debate.

Hosts Nafis Abdullah, aka Botak, and Burn, real name R. Rueben Thevandran, are bringing their style to the station’s coverage, which would involve more conversations.

“The show is going to be more laid back. We want to have conversations and debates with those in the studio and at home,” said Rueben, who hosts the weekly Berbulu Dengan Burn show and Nafis, who hosts Borak-Borak Botak.

“On top of that, we will also have Instagram ‘live’ on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.”

Rueben said the viewing habits of football fans have changed drastically. It is no longer about watching a game on television and a few pundits in the studio.

“We have to keep things as fresh and as up to date as possible. That is why we will have segments for YouTube, Facebook and Instagram,” he added.

“I’m going from hosting a weekly show, to one which will appear every two to three days.

“Sometimes, we have to push the boundaries during the show and share our opinions. Not many will like it.”

Rueben added coming from the entertainment world – he was one of the original contestants on Akademi Fantasia – opened his eyes as “sports fans are a lot more brutal”.

“I have come in for plenty of criticism, but it is different when it comes to sports. Some of the comments can be quite brutal – and they have no problems telling it to my face!” he quipped.

“But I do not let it get to me. We want people to talk about the issues we bring up, and if there is a debate, so be it. We have to respect each other’s opinions.”

The England supporter said he is hoping against hope the Three Lions would create an upset.

“They have what it takes to reach the semifinals. I want them to win but I do not see that happening,” said Rueben, who has been following England since 1995 as he was a big Alan Shearer fan.

“The final is likely to be between France and Portugal.”

That sentiment is echoed by Nafis, despite being a staunch supporter of Italy.

He said given the fact Italy is in the midst of rebuilding the team, its best hope is to reach the quarterfinals.

“Reaching the last eight would be an achievement. At the most, I would say they can reach the semis, but it will be France and Portugal in the final,” said Nafis, who agreed with Rueben on the need to have a “thick skin”.

“I learnt during my time with Astro that one can have a different view on any subject – except football. That’s when the backlash begins!

“Football fans only want to hear what they believe in. They cannot take it if you say another team is better than theirs, or if a player from another club is better than their star striker.”

He added he has wised up to the brickbats, although he was affected by some of the comments at first.

As for Euro 2020, he said he cannot wait for it to begin as it has been delayed by a year due to Covid-19.

“Our internal clock is going to be out of sync due to the time difference, but I would not have it any other way,” Nafis said.

“It is easy to stay awake to watch a match at 3am but it is different when you have to ‘work’.

“This is my first big football tournament as a host, and I am so excited,” he added.

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