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The AFC Asian Cup third-place play-off is the match in which no team worth its salt wants to participate but that does not mean that such games are total no-go zones for speculative punters.
Australia (our pre tournament pick) and the Korea Republic will go head to head in the AFC Asian Cup final in Sydney on Saturday but not before Iraq and the United Arab Emirates play off for the bronze medal in Newcastle on Friday. One does not want a bar of trying to pick the winner of the AFC Asian Cup third-place play-off but one does not mind suggesting that the game could be wide open and full of goal-scoring chances.
There will be no pressure on either Iraq or the United Arab Emirares when they take to the field for their final match of the AFC Asian Cup. Both sides have exceeded their AFC Asian Cup expectations – Iraq made the most of what one can only describe as a ghastly refereeing performance to knock out Iran on penalties after a 1-1 normal-time draw and a 3-3 extra-time draw, while the United Arab Emirates accounted for defending champion Japan, also on penalties – so they will line up in Newcastle safe in the knowledge that they will return to their homelands with enhanced reputations.
One hopes that the relatively meaningless environment of the AFC Asian Cup third-place play-off will lead Iraq to throw caution to the wind for the first time in the event. One does not have to hope that the United Arab Emirates will adopt attacking tactics because the Whites have tried to take every AFC Asian Cup game to their opponents.
United Arab Emirates player Omar Abdulrahman has been one of the stars of the AFC Asian Cup. Abdulrahman, who had a trial at Manchester City two and a half years ago, has the soccer world at his feet provided that he wants to escape the easy life in the United Arab Emirates where he runs rings around opponents for Al Ain in the Arabian Gulf League. One is sure that several Europe-based teams will contact Abdulrahman in the coming weeks, such is the midfielder’s talent with the ball at his feet, and one is looking forward to seeing him play versus Iraq in the AFC Asian Cup third-place play-off.
This column is all about highlighting long odds that have a good chance of paying out so one is interested in backing over four and a half goals between Iraq and the United Arab Emirates in the AFC Asian Cup third-place play-off at odds of 10/1 11.00 +1000 10.00 10.00 -0.10 with Bet365. BetVictor is offering odds of 19/5 4.80 +380 3.80 3.80 -0.26 about over three and a half goals but that is less fun.
The 2011 AFC Asian Cup third-place play-off between the Korea Republic and Uzbekistan was an entertaining affair, with all five goals scored in the first 53 minutes. Traditional rivals Japan and the Korea Republic played out a 0-0 draw in the 2007 AFC Asian Cup third-place play-off but the 2004 match for the AFC Asian Cup bronze medal resulted in a 4-2 win for Iran over Bahrain. One is hoping that the presence of two relatively unheralded sides in this year’s AFC Asian Cup third-place play-off will produce a game more akin to the 2004 and 2011 matches than the 2007 scrap.
The best known third-place play-offs are those that take place in the FIFA World Cup. Each of the last 10 FIFA World Cup third-place play-offs has gone over two and a half goals, six of them have gone over three and a half goals and three of them have gone over four and a half goals.
Most of the previous meetings between Iraq and the United Arab Emirates have been low scoring but the AFC Asian Cup third-place play-off presents a markedly different set of circumstances and one would rather take long odds about a goalfest than snap up short odds about a snoozefest.
Over 4.5 goals in AFC 3rd place play off
30th January 9:00 GMT
Odds: 10/1 11.00 +1000 10.00 10.00 -0.10
Where to Bet: Bet365