IT’S third-place play-off time in the Asian Cup. Mark O’Haire’s (@MarkOHaire) scoured the card for his best bet in the Iraq-UAE tussle from Newcastle.
Iraq v United Arab Emirates | Friday 09.00 | Eurosport
Friday’s third-place play-off between UAE and Iraq could prove a happy hunting ground for punters looking for a positive goals-based bet. Unlike the World Cup (where the last 10 third-place games have featured Over 2.5 Goals), the Asian equivalent hasn’t been quite so prolific on the goals front.
However, five of the last eight have thrown up winning selections in the Both Teams To Score column and a repeat can be backed at 11/10 with Betfair. That looks more than fair, to me.
It’s almost impossible to gauge the mental and physical states of both sides after morale-sapping semi-final losses. But with little to play for bar pride, both UAE and Iraq should be encouraged to play on the front foot, which should hopefully lead us to a goal-heavy game in Newcastle.
The two Middle Eastern nations have only claimed podium finishes twice in their Asian Cup careers; Iraq crowned unlikely champions in 2007 with UAE finishing runners-up in 1996. And Emirati coach Mahdi Ali has already suggested he’s ready to rotate his young squad.
The Emiratis have impressed many in Australia with Ali moulding a positive attacking team. Sharpshooter Ali Mabkhout has been confirmed as a starter as he bids for golden boot glory with playmaker Omar Abdulrahman also expected to be on show, so there shouldn’t be an doubt about the firepower on display.
The UAE have beaten Iraq in both their previous matches in Gulf Cup finals but I’m not prepared to enter the markets on either side after dreams were shattered in the semi-finals. Radhi Shenaishil's reckons his Iraq side are pumped so whilst both camps have been talking up the play-off, I can’t help but think backing goals looks an altogether better solution.
Iraq v United Arab Emirates – Both Teams To Score (11/10 Betfair)