GROUP D’s Friday’s focus from the Asian Cup. Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) shares his thoughts on the two fixtures.
Palestine v Jordan | Friday 07.00 | Eurosport
Poor Palestine. Making their debut in a major international tournament, the war-torn nation were drawn to play defending champions and Asian super-power Japan in their curtain-raiser. Unsurprisingly, things turned a little Michael Myers and they were 3-0 down at half-time.
But credit Ahmed Al Hassan’s charges. Palestine only conceded one more goal in the second-half and now their tournament can begin. At 19/2 they’re rated as huge outsiders for their second pool match and that’s a touch unfair.
Granted, the outsiders have never beaten a side of similar ability to Jordan but they’ve given a number of teams one hell of a game. China (0-0) and Uzbekistan (1-0) found the going tough in pre-tournament friendlies and they’ve not been beaten by a margin of three goals or more in 14 games leading up to that loss to Japan. Ironically, the previous team to do it were in fact, Jordan (4-1) back in August 2013.
But this Jordanian side are a rabble and there’s no reason why Palestine can’t keep the scoreline respectable. It’s now two draws and nine losses for The Chivalrous in their past 11 outings whilst they’ve scored just twice in eight games since Ray Wilkins took over.
They huffed and puffed in their 1-0 reverse to Iraq but should have enough to breach the Palestinian backline. I was disappointed not to find any real value in the handicap markets to support the outsiders but putting all the pieces together we should be expecting a Jordan victory and a low-scoring game. Jordan to win and Under 2.5 Goals is a 15/8 chance with Betway and that looks the best option.
Iraq v Japan | Friday 09.00 | Eurosport
Tournament favourites Japan eased to a 4-0 win over rank outsiders Palestine on Monday morning and the Blue Samurai can again be backed to come up trumps for handicap backers again on Friday. Javier Aguirre’s team take on Iraq and are 3/4 (Bet365) to overcome a -1.25 Asian Handicap in Brisbane.
The defending champions barely broke sweat as they swatted aside the Palestinians and their talented squad has enough firepower to blow away their Group D rivals. Iraq edged out Jordan in a dour and uninspiring clash to end their own rotten serious of results.
Although the three points will give the Lions a lift, they face a huge leap in class against a Japanese side that’s ended up winning the trophy in three of the last four tournaments.
With this selection, we’ll be in profit should Japan win by a margin of two goals or more but will only lose half our stake should the Blue Samurai only win by a solitary strike. I fully expect them to be the races in their toughest group assignment.