AFC Asian Cup Quarterfinals
It’s do or die now, and there’s no room for mistake as the final eight teams—some expected and some surprised—vie for a ticket to the semi-finals of the AFC Asian Cup.
Unsurprisingly, World Cup 2018 teams Iran, South Korea, Japan and Australia are the heavy favourites to make it to the next round. Experience counts for something, and there’s nothing better than playing on the biggest stage, against the best teams in the world.
However, make no mistake, the quadrennial affair has seen its fair share of upsets over the years. In fact, in the 2015 instalment, the United Arab Emirates stunned Japan on penalties after playing out a 1-1 stalemate.
UAE is back in the competition again, and this time as hosts. Meanwhile, Vietnam, China and Qatar are also in the last eight and will be hoping to exceed expectations when they step on the pitch.
Vietnam vs Japan (January 24, 21:00 GMT+8)
Japan have been on a tear since their impressive World Cup performance that saw them make it to the Round of 16 and almost upset eventual third-placers Belgium. They haven’t lost in their nine games after that and are currently riding a four-game winning run in the Asian Cup.
While they seem unstoppable, however, their recent display against Saudi Arabia raised some concerns. They were not that convincing in the game and barely won against a Saudi team that showed real attacking intent.
Vietnam, Southeast Asian champions who dominated the AFF Champion last month, will probably smell blood after seeing Japan struggle.
The Golden Dragons, led by South Korean manager Park Hang-seo, are brimming with confidence right now after taking down Yemen and Jordan in back-to-back games.
Betting Tip: Vietnam Asian Handicap +1.25 @ 2.12.
China PR vs Iran (January 25, 00:00 GMT+8)
China are in a quest to win their first Asian title, and they have shown they are determined to end their championship drought.
While losing to South Korea in the final group stage game blemished their title credentials, they made sure to bounce back big time with a come-from-behind victory over Thailand to seal a spot in the quarters.
China’s head coach Marcello Lippi applauding their win against Thailand in the AFC Asian Cup
Team Dragon scored two second-half goals in quick succession after trailing Thailand by one in the first half. The team remain composed and were rightly rewarded with the win.
Nonetheless, Iran may be China’s biggest challenge yet—bigger than South Korea. The AFC Asian Cup 2019 odds at us have Team Melli winning it all this time around, and it’s worth noting that the Iranians have young striker and so-called ‘Iranian Messi’ Sardar Azmoun leading their frontline.
Iran played out a goalless draw with Iraq last week, but that was merely a blip to what has been an impressive campaign for them. They already have nine goals in the competition and are yet to concede a goal.
Betting Tip: Iran Correct Score 1-2 @ 10.50.
Korea Republic vs Qatar (January 25, 21:00 GMT+8)
Perhaps the biggest crowd drawer of the tournament, South Korea—led by Premier League star Son Heung-min—continue their chase for a third Asian Cup title and first in the 21st century.
Still undefeated with four wins out of four, the Taegeuk Warriors are one of the top contenders in the tournament. They had a rough start to their campaign, but they have since found their stride after the arrival of Son from Tottenham.
Qatar, just like Bahrain who was beaten earlier by South Korea, are outsiders and aren’t expected to put up much of a challenge. But they have been one of the biggest surprises at UAE, and it might be wrong to write them off completely.
The Maroons are coming off a 1-0 victory against a strong and heavily favoured Iraq team. They are also the best scoring team in the competition with 11 goals so far.
Not to mention that they won their last meeting with South Korea—a 3-2 win in the World Cup qualifications back in 2017.
Betting Tip: Goals Over 2.25 @ 2.02.
United Arab Emirates vs Australia (January 26, 00:00 GMT+8)
The UAE are enjoying playing at home, as proven by their unbeaten record. Although they have been underwhelming with two wins and two draws, they did enough to make it to this stage.
Unfortunately for them, they have to take things up a notch against the reigning champions, Australia. The Socceroos, though seemingly weaker than their 2015 team, have already two games with three goals.
Australia midfielder Tom Rogic in action with Syria’s Khaled Al Mbayed during the AFC Asian Cup match at the Khalifa bin Zayed Stadium
Australia went into penalties against Uzbekistan the last time out, and holding them to another goalless draw might be the only way for UAE to beat them.
The Australians have plenty of creativity in the midfield with Celtic’s Tom Rogic and Perth Glory’s Chris Ikonomidis anchoring it, and they do not lack on the offensive end with Jamie MacLaren, Mathew Leckie and Awer Mabil present.
Betting Tip: Australia 1X2 @ 1.94.
Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.
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