GROUP B of the Asian Cup is the focus on Wednesday with Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) hunting more winners in Australia.
North Korea v Saudi Arabia | Wednesday 07.00 | Eurosport
North Korea and Saudi Arabia meet in Melbourne knowing it’s win-or-bust in their battle to reach the Asian Cup quarter-finals. Neither side collected a point nor managed to score a goal in their tournament openers and now the pressure is on to produce when it matters most.
Saudi Arabia were second best against China but missed a penalty before a deflected free-kick settled the game with 10 minutes to play. It was only the second occasion in 12 fixtures that the Green Falcons had failed to score and the loss of Asian Player of the Year Naseer Al-Shamrani to injury has hit them hard.
North Korea were competitive for large periods against Uzbekistan but their resistance eventually told against the Group B favourites. Little was expected from the outsiders but the mysterious nation competed well enough to suggest they could yet cause an upset in the pool.
With that in mind, I’m going to put my faith in North Korea in the Double Chance market. Bet365 make it a 3/4 shot and we’ll get paid out if they avoid defeat. I saw little to convince me that the Saudis are strong enough to warrant support at 5/4. After all, they’ve failed to pick up a point in the Asian Cup since 2007!
China v Uzbekistan | Wednesday 09.00 | Eurosport
Uzbekistan will be searching for a second Group B win on Wednesday morning with China the opposition. The Central Asians were comfortable in their 1-0 success over North Korea and have been chalked up at an attractive 6/4 (William Hill) to secure their place in the quarter-finals with three points.
The White Wolves missed out on World Cup qualification by a single goal and showed their class in the second-half of that opener with experienced pair Timur Kapadze and captain Server Djeparov in midfield running the show. It took Mirjalol Qosimov's side a good 45 minutes to get going in that game but they remain the team to beat in Group B.
The Chinese are a work in progress under Alain Perrin and despite edging out Saudi Arabia on Saturday, are a class below the Uzbeks. Team Dragon are without defeat in 11 but did ride their luck against the Saudis and they’re unlikely to be handed any favours by an Uzbekistan side who could well be a match for any potential quarter-finalists they face.
I’m happy to play the straight Match Odds here. Uzbekistan have been unfancied in the markets previously but confidence in the White Wolves continues to grow. Their odds have already been trimmed ahead of this encounter but at odds-against, they remain a good value option.
North Korea v Saudi Arabia – North Korea double chance (3/4 Bet365)
China v Uzbekistan – Uzbekistan to win (6/4 William Hill)