Asian Cup Tips | 19th January 2015

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ANOTHER winning double from Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) on Sunday’s Asian Cup action. So what’s he got lined up for Monday morning?

Iran v United Arab Emirates | 09.00 Monday

Brisbane hopes the crucial Group C clash between Iran and UAE. On the surface, it looks like the first meeting in four years has little significance, with both sides having already booked their place in the quarter-finals.

But don’t be fooled; top spot is still up for grabs and the carrot of avoiding tournament favourites Japan in the last eight means both teams should (at least in theory) be looking to take the points.

The two Middle Eastern teams play contrasting styles of football, which could make this an intriguing encounter. Iran have been marked up as even-money favourites and they’ll look to continue their safety-first approach.

A strong defensive structure has meant Team Meli have kept consecutive clean sheets, relying on the pace and skill of Ashkan Dejagah and Reza Goochannejhad on the break. Whether that will serve Carlos Queiroz with another three points remains to be seen.

Iran will be cheered on by thousands of fans in the stands but standing in their way is one of the tournament dark horses in UAE. The Whites are currently enjoyed the fruits of a golden generation and their attack-minded side have scored with ease so far in the tournament.

Omar Abdulrahman is the key man and if he can continue to find space between the lines, he’ll look for the killer passes to the impressive Ali Mabkhout and Ahmed Khalil.

As already mentioned, there a vast contrasts in style and it’s a similar story in terms of betting trends. But I’m sitting marginally more on the Iranian side. After all, it’s easier to keep goals out than score, well at least it should be.

Iran’s record of 12 clean sheets in their last 19 games is significant, as is the fact that seven of their last 11 outings have featured either one or no goals. With that in mind, I’m happy to take the 10/11 from BetBright that Both Halves go Under 1.5 Goals.

Qatar v Bahrain | 09.00 Monday

Just 25 miles separate Qatar from Bahrain and the two teams know Monday mornings meeting will be their last in the Asian Cup before catching a flight home from Australia. But there’s most certainly pride and bragging rights at stake.

Gulf Cup champions Qatar have been a huge disappointment. Beaten convincingly by UAE and Iran, the Maroon’s squad were on their knees, rocked having arrived tournament as dark horses.

A lack of cutting edge in attack and a catalogue of defensive errors has proved their undoing and I’ve a feeling the hurt and pain from their previous two outings could work against them.

Bahrain have endured plenty of disruption in the past 12 months but they’ve put in two battling displays despite ending up with two defeats against the same opponents. Nevertheless, there was enough encouragement to believe backing Bahrain at evens with a +0.25 start on the Asian Handicap is the right way to go.

Unlike Qatar, not an awful lot was expected from Bahrain and although they will be disappointed to be on the early flight home, they won’t have been feeling quite as down as their opponents. It’s still a fairly new dawn for the West Asians after a turbulent year in which three different coaches have come and gone and they’ll be bullish about their chances of avoiding defeat.

Striker Jaycee John Okwunwanne has shown his raw attacking ability in the box throughout the competition and their defence has done relatively well, going up against quality opposition on both occasions. There’s enough about them to avoid a pointless campaign so give them your support on Monday morning.

Should they collect a draw we’ll earn half of our potential profit and be celebrating success if they can nick a win to round off their campaign. The previous two meetings between the two teams came in 2014, both ending 0-0. And their last meaningful match ended in a 1-0 Bahraini victory.

Best Bets

Iran v UAE – Both Halves to go Under 1.5 Goals (10/11 BetBright)

Qatar v Bahrain – Bahrain +0.25 Asian Handicap (1/1 Bet365)

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After starting his career in newspaper journalism, Mark soon found his way into the online betting world, forging a career in content, social media and marketing production. With a huge passion for stats, the Football League and European football, Mark’s other interests include playing rugby, following his beloved QPR and travel.

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