WHO will join South Korea in the Asian Cup final? Tournament hosts Australia meet dark horses UAE to find out with Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) sharing his best bets for the second semi-final.
Australia v United Arab Emirates | Tuesday 09.00 | Eurosport
Australia won’t admit it but they would have been relieved to see UAE produce the shock of the tournament by dumping out Japan at the quarter-final stage. A dream home Asian Cup final in Sydney is now tantalisingly close and Ange Postecoglou’s men will be confident of progression against the Emirati on Tuesday morning.
Since taking the role 14 months ago, the Socceroos boss has been focussed on guiding the Roos to continental glory. The media are suggesting their semi-final showdown will be an event to rival Australia’s 2005 Uruguay World Cup qualifier. So don’t let anyone try and tell you football and this match doesn’t mean much Down Under.
Newcastle’s Hunter Stadium will be packed to the rafters and you’d expect Postecoglou’s men to get the job done. The Roos were professional in their performance against China in the last eight and can now call upon an almost fully fit squad. Australia will also get an extra day’s rest.
Unlike the Aussies, UAE endured a roller-coaster extra-time and penalties scenario for a spot in the last four and the slayers of the Samurai Blue have a fitness doubt over star man Omar Abdulrahman. The White are a tight-knit group though and Mahdi Ali’s men will be determined to give the hosts a run for their money.
Ali Mabkhout, Ismael Al Hammadi and Ahmed Khalil can and will hurt the Socceroos if given an opportunity but much depends on Omar’s condition and if he can shake off the attention of Mile Jedinak. It promises to be a fascinating watch. I’m just really hoping UAE don’t sit back and allow wave after wave of attack – in a similar manner to their quarter-final – as they’re a much better unit when on the front foot.
I’m not convinced they have the defensive resolve to keep Australia out, mind. They’ve already faced 75 attempts on goal in the competition, a tournament-high. So I’m going to have a play on Both Teams To Score as I believe Coral’s 13/8 is just too big to ignore.
As already mentioned, much depends on Omar’s physical condition but this Australia side have kept just five clean sheets in 21 outings and have yet to convince me at the back. On the other hand, the Emirati have netted in nine of their last 11 matches and seen Both Teams Score in six of their last 10 games.
I’m also going to have to take Tim Cahill to score at anytime (6/4 Bet365). So far only SkyBet are offering the Score/Win double with just even-money on offer; so seeing just half of that bet available at a much bigger price deserves plenty of attention.
Cahill scored two marvellous goals in the quarter-final clash with China meaning the former Everton hitman has netted in nine of his last 14 international appearances, three of which came from the bench. That’s an impressive record and hopefully one that will be extended come Tuesday morning.