The I’s – Italy, Ireland and Iceland – landed one’s bets in the first batch of FIFA World Cup qualifying matches during the international break and one is stucking with the ninth letter of the alphabet in the second batch of games.
Normally one would not headline a team that has lost three competitive matches in a row but Iraq is unlucky to have those numbers against its name. Iraq held Australia until the 58th minute of the FIFA World Cup qualifying game between the sides in Perth and, ultimately, there was no disgrace in losing 0-2 away to the AFC Asian Cup title holder. Iraq lost 1-2 to Saudi Arabia in the neutral Malaysian city of Shah Alam and the Lions of Mesopotamia were leading 1-0 until the Green Falcons converted two penalty kicks in 81st minute and beyond. Iraq lost 1-2 to Japan in Saitama, conceding the deciding goal five minutes into second-half stoppage time. Iraq has zero FIFA World Cup qualifying points when it could easily have four points.
Tehran in Iran is the neutral venue for Tuesday’s FIFA World Cup match between Iraq and Thailand so it is close to home for the Lions of Mesopotamia. Several bookmakers, including 188Bet, Ladbrokes and SkyBet, are offering odds of -125 about Iraq and that strikes one as good value option.
Thailand has lost each of its last four games, including a last-start 1-3 defeat versus the United Arab Emirates in Abu Dhabi. One acknowledges that Iraq and Thailand drew twice in the previous FIFA World Cup qualifying round but, according to one’s collateral form analysis, the Lions of Mesopotamia are superior to the War Elephants. Thailand has improved in recent times but the fact remains that the War Elephants have not beaten a high-ranking Asian team on foreign soil since the turn of the century so one is supporting Iraq.
Staying in the AFC zone and one likes the idea of backing Iran at odds of +155 with many bookmakers, including BetVictor, to defeat Korea Republic on Tuesday.
Iran has not lost any match since going down 1-3 to Sweden in a Solna friendly 18 months ago and Team Melli have not lost a competitive game without a penalty competition since being on the wrong side of a 1-3 result against Bosnia and Herzgovina in the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Iran has lined up versus Korea Republic three times since October 2012 and Team Melli have won each of those matches by 1-0 margins.
There is probably not a great deal between Iran and Korea Republic but the head-to-head results and the Tehran venue entitles Team Melli to be a lot shorter odds than +155 .
Finally, one is entrusting Iceland for the second time in a week as the Boys entertain Turkey in Reykjavik on Sunday.
Iceland and Turkey have faced Ukraine in their respective FIFA World Cup qualifying campaigns and, according to one’s collateral form analysis, the Boys have the edge having drawn 1-1 on the road compared to drawing 2-2 at home.
Iceland and Turkey clashed during qualifying for UEFA Euro 2016 and the Boys won the corresponding fixture 3-0. Turkey had Omer Toprak sent off in the 59th minute of that game but Iceland led 1-0 at the time before scoring two late goals. The surprise package of Euro 2016 is available at +150 with BetVictor, BoyleSports and Betfair to emerge victorious on Sunday night.
Iraq to beat Thailand
Tuesday 11th October, 13:30 GMT
Iran to beat South Korea
Tuesday 11th October, 15:45 GMT
Iceland to beat Turkey
Sunday 9th October, 19:45 GMT