WITH six winners from eight bets in the first round of Asian Cup group games, can you afford to miss out on Mark O’Haire’s (@MarkOHaire) latest thoughts?
Kuwait v South Korea | Tuesday 07.00 | Eurosport
South Korea were far from their fluid best in their curtain-raiser against Oman but Uli Stielike's men still managed to collect maximum points. A narrow 1-0 victory was secured and the Taegeuk Warriors will be keen to make matters a little more convincing when they take on Kuwait in Canberra.
The Oman victory gave them just their second back-to-back success since 2012 but we should take advantage of Bet365’s offering of 21/20 on South Korea -1.25 in the Asian Handicap market for the Group A showdown. Taking this selection, we’ll be in profit should Korea win by two goals or more but only lose half our stake if Stielike's side only manage a victory by one goal.
History is very much in the Taegeuk Warriors favour. The Asian giants have won all five previous meetings with Kuwait to an aggregate score of 13-1. And it’s worth noting they’ve won by a margin of two goals or greater in four of their last six victories.
Korea monopolised possession in the opener and will be keen to add more fluidity to their attack on Tuesday. Should they turn it up a notch, a comfortable win should follow.
Kuwait’s 4-1 defeat to tournament hosts Australia was only their second loss in nine but both defeats have seen them collapse defensively. And it’s that fragile back line that could be exposed against the pace and technically proficient Koreans. Coach Nabil Maaloul will set the underdogs up to play on the break but missing two of their three biggest stars, the Blue will be up against it.
Three of Kuwait’s last four losses have all come by a margin of two goals or more and it would be a surprise if South Korea don’t manage to extend that sorry streak in Canberra.
Oman v Australia | Tuesday 09.00 | Eurosport
Australia survived an early scare and ended up sauntering to victory in the opening Asian Cup game last Friday morning. The 4-1 victory didn’t flatter Ange Postecoglou’s side who saw their outright odds contract after a confident and capable display having gone a goal down early on.
Trying to find a decent-priced bet can be tricky in fixtures such as these. I’m not prepared to put my cash on the Socceroos winning by two or more goals. Oman might not have been tested or stretched too often by South Korea in their 1-0 defeat but they were most definitely organised and compact.
The Omani side are probably a touch better than the betting markets give them credit for but we’re all expecting a home win here. So I’m going to throw a couple of quid on Tim Cahill to score at anytime (6/4 Betfair).
Cahill leads the line impressively for the Roos and although reaching the end of his career, remains a vital component in the new-look Australian XI. In fact, Australia have scored 16 goals since Postecoglou took over the reigns in late 2013 and Cahill has netted exactly half of those goals.
And when the Socceroos score, Cahill scores. The former Everton hitman has netted in all eight matches that Australia have scored in since Postecoglou took charge. That’s an impressive record and hopefully one that will be extended come Tuesday morning.
For the record, Paul Le Guen's underdogs have conceded 11 goals in their last five outings and lost seven of their most recent 12.