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Sometimes bookmakers chalk up big odds about what one thinks is an obvious bet and that is the case regarding the AFC Asian Cup top goal scorer market for which Australia striker Tim Cahill is available at odds of +800 with Ladbrokes.
Most of Australia’s golden generation has retired but Cahill is still going strong at the age of 35 and the Socceroos are reliant on him for goals at the highest level. Incredibly, Cahill has scored eight of Australia’s 12 goals in the 12 games that they have played since Ange Postecoglou succeeded Holger Osieck as Socceroos coach, with Mile Jedinak (three goals, two of which were penalty kicks) and Bailey Wright (one goal) being the other scorers for the Australians.
Cahill is supremely fit for a man of his age and, while he will run out of puff eventually, one thinks that he has a major tournament, particularly one on home turf, left in him. Postecoglou is likely to set up Australia in a more attacking formation that the Socceroos employed in its FIFA World Cup losses to Chile, the Netherlands and Spain and, while that may result in Cahill not being the host team’s one and only striker, the New York Red Bulls star’s aerial ability is something that many AFC sides struggle to negate. It is a well worn cliche that AFC teams struggle in the air because it is true for the overwhelming majority of them.
Postecoglou has staked his coaching reputation on Australia not only going a long way in the AFC Asian Cup – anything less than a semi-final berth would be a disaster – but also getting the Socceroos to play with the verve for which his Brisbane and Melbourne Victory teams were famous during his A-League managerial career. Australia is likely to play with two wingers and, given the propensity for AFC sides to leak headed goals, one expects to see plenty of crosses swung in the direction of Cahill, who is very good in the air for someone of his height. Cahill is listed at 178 centimetres yet his leap and ability to hang in the air means that he poses the aerial threat of a striker about 10cm taller.
The AFC Asian Cup draw leads one to think that the top goal scorer will emerge from either Group A, in which Australia lines up alongside Korea Republic, Kuwait and Oman, or Group D, in which Iraq, Japan and Jordan and Palestine will fight for two quarter-final spots. Group B is the AFC Asian Cup’s Group of Death and Group C houses Iran, which took negative football to a whole new level in the FIFA World Cup. Japan has more goal threats than Australia does so, while Samurai Blue players will be popular with punters, it is difficult to nail one’s colours to just one of their stars. Cahill stands out for Australia and he could get a hatful in his team’s first two Group A matches versus Kuwait and Oman. Kuwait lost 0-5 to Oman during the Gulf Cup of Nations in Saudi Arabia and, since then, the victorious Red Warriors have conceded nine goals in their three losses and one draw, including a 1-4 defeat against China on Australian soil.
It is imperative to back a player whose side one thinks will reach the AFC Asian Cup last four because only one player in the history of the tournament has either won or joint won the top scorer award playing a team that did not secure a top-four finish – Saudi Arabia’s Yasser Al-Qahtani in 2007. As you’ve no doubt read from a previous article, we’re tipping Australia to go all the way, so that supports our top goalscorer tip.
Cahill’s trademark goal celebration is punching corner flags and he has the blessing of ground curators over Australia to bash them during the AFC Asian Cup. Australia’s all-time top scorer should be among the goals again for the Socceroos.
Tim Cahill Top Goalscorer at AFC Asian Cup
Starts 9th January 08:30 GMT
Where to Bet: Ladbrokes
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