The 16th edition of the Asian Cup gets started on Friday morning with host nation Australia looking to set down an early marker against Group A rivals Kuwait in Melbourne. Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) has been hunting the value.
Australia v Kuwait | Friday 09.00 | Eurosport
The Socceroos have slid to an all-time low of 102 in the FIFA rankings and despite a whirlwind of optimism following their brave World Cup performances last summer, are under big pressure to challenge for the title.
Ange Postecoglou’s side have won just once in their last 10 outings and failed to score in two friendlies against Asian Cup rivals Qatar and UAE recently. But against the Group A outsiders Kuwait, should be expected to pick up three comfortable points.
WRONG PRICE ALERT! Our first play must be the 17/10 from William Hill on Australia-Australia in the HT-FT market. Whilst others are quoting odds as short as 4/5 on the Roos, we’d be a little foolish not to get stuck into that 17/10 from Billy Hill.
EDIT: Hill's have since updated their price meaning the best odds on the HT-FT market for Australia is 19/20 with BetVictor and I'm not prepared to put my faith in the bet at odds-on quotes. Well done if you got on early.
Secondly Bet365’s oddly priced 43/40 is also worth a dabble on an Australia win -1.5 in the Asian Handicap market. This bet essentially means we’re backing the Assuies to win by two goals or more. It’s something the Socceroos have done in three of their last seven competitive games on home soil.
Kuwait arrive having suffered just one defeat in eight outings but that loss was a 5-0 hammering by Oman in the Gulf Cup in November. It was their worst defeat in more than a decade and their heaviest competitive loss in living memory.
Nabil Maaloul was given the task to recover lost pride but their relatively rookie coach is unlikely to have enough time to sort out a defence that has kept just three clean sheets in 14 outings. The Blue have the ability to grab a goal but their ragged and unorganised approach to defence could and should be exposed by the tournament hosts.
To make matters worse for the outsiders, lightning quick forward Fahad Al Enezi will be missing after a citizenship dispute arose. His absence means The Blue are without two of their three standout players coming into the tournament.
Australia v Kuwait – Australia -1.5 Asian Handicap (43/40 Bet365)