Tue, Sep 6, 10:40am by Bren O'Brien
Venue: Mohamed Bin Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi
Date and Time: Wednesday September 7, 1:30pm AEST
Having secured an important three points to open the final round of World Cup qualifying against Iraq in Perth, the Socceroos head to Abu Dhabi looking to put themselves in an even stronger position against a United Arab Emirates side coming off a surprise away win over Japan.
The UAE will throw the gates open on Tuesday night (Wed morning AEST) in order to get a big crowd to intimidate the champions of Asia as Australia look to capture a rare win in the Middle East.
While Australia has won nine of their past ten World Cup qualifiers, their record in the heat of West Asia is less convincing. Their sole loss in the first round of qualification came away to Jordan in Amman, while their past five matches in the region have seen one win, one draw and three losses.
Hence, the location of the home qualifier in the lead-up to this game was strategic. The direct flight from Perth to the Middle East is four hours shorter than from the Eastern seaboard, allowing the Socceroos a lot more time to acclimatise to the heat, which is expected to be around 30 degrees at kick off.
Australia have played two away matches against the UAE, drawn both of them 0-0, while their one win over them came in the semi-finals of the 2015 Asian Cup, where Trent Sainsbury and Jason Davidson scored in a 2-0 win in Newcastle.
The hero that night was Massimo Luongo, who set-up both goals. The QPR midfielder is coming off another strong performance against Iraq in Perth, where he scored the first goal in a 2-0 win.
Having played a midfield diamond in the home match, which included creative trio Luongo, Tom Rogic and Aaron Mooy, coach Ange Postecolgou will likely opt for a more conservative set-up away from home. Having used Tomi Juric and Mathew Leckie up front on Thursday, it would not surprise to see Robbie Kruse come in, and Tim Cahill being utilised.
UAE have plenty of talent, headed by Omar Abdulrahman, who is their playmaker while Ahmed Khalil is coming off a brace against Japan and will be the man that the Aussie defence need to stop scoring.
Sportsbet has Australia as $2.30 favourites, with UAE priced at $3 and the draw the outsiders choice at $3.20. Cahill may not have featured in the previous match, but he is still $5.50 favourite to score the first goal, with Ali Mabkhout $7.50 for the UAE.
Cahill is $2.40 to score at anytime, ahead of Nathan Burns at $2.80, while Luongo is $4.33 to make it goals in back-to-back matches. Ahmed Khalil, who has scored in eight of the UAE’s past ten matches, is $3.75 to score in this match, behind Ali Mabkhout at $3.30.
Having secured that surprise result in Japan, UAE may be more inclined to take the draw here against the other powerhouse of the group. Australia would also accept a point, although they are far more attacking under Postecoglou than any of his predecessors.
Suggested Bet: The $3.20 about the draw seems very good value considering the history between these two teams.
Value Bet: The $3.75 about Ahmed Ali scoring in this match is very much overs when you look at his recent scoring record of 14 in his past ten matches.
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