Asian Champions Australia will continue their charge towards the 2018 FIFA World Cup with two key qualifiers in five days; and will be confident of consolidating their position atop Group B via two successes.
The Socceroos will contest their first qualifier at home this campaign when hosting minnows Bangladesh in Perth on Thursday night, before sights are set abroad next Tuesday when Ange Postecoglou’s men will face Tajikistan in Dushanbe.
We’re offering the best odds on the widest range of markets for all World Cup qualifiers, including Australia’s two upcoming matches!
Australia vs Bangladesh
While resounding favourites for this match since pools and fixtures for AFC World Cup qualifiers were announced, the Socceroos have been dealt several blows in the lead-up to Thursday night’s match with Bangladesh.
Goalkeeper Mat Ryan has more than made the number 1 jersey his own since the retirement of national legend Mark Schwarzer, but suffered a knock to the knee playing for club side Valencia and was prompted ruled out of the two qualifiers.
Ryan joins captain Mile Jedinak, Tomi Juric and Robbie Kruse as regular selections who have been ruled out of the two qualifiers as a result of niggles, with Postecoglou adding a number of A-League representatives and lightly-capped players to the fold in place.
The squad will be led by popular veteran and striker Tim Cahill, who has been in great touch for club side Shanghai Shenhua and is sure to be a handful for the Bangladesh defence.
Bangladesh have interestingly drawn their entire squad from the local Bagladesh Premier League; electing to sit out players like Ischan Reasat Khaton who currently ply their trade abroad.
Manager Lodewijk de Kruif has bolstered his squad with a number of young players, whilst maintaining stability via captain Mamunul Islam Mamum and 61-cap veteran Jahid Hasan Ameli, who has scored 15 times for his nation.
Australia are understandably clear favourites to win this match at current $1.02 odds in win-draw-win markets, but there is plenty of value to be taken through varying avenues.
The Socceroos will look to tie up the ball and feed Cahill opportunity after opportunity all night, so backing the captain to be first goal-scorer may very well figure as a smart betting play.
While losing the services of first choice Ryan, Australia boasts plenty of depth in goal and is it likely Bournemouth shot-stopper Adam Federici will be handed a cap. Australia to beat Bangladesh 3-0 at current $10 odds is well worth consideration.
Australia vs Tajikistan
There is still plenty of training and game time to elapse before Australia and Tajikistan lock horns next Tuesday, and Ange Postecoglou is sure to base his time on what did and didn’t work against Bangladesh.
Manager Payan Rafat has drawn a good portion of his squad; a total of 13 players from the nation’s top division champions FC Istiklol, who were barely bothered on their way to the championship last season.
Goalkeeper Alisher Tuychiev has been retained as national captain, while a sturdy defence featuring Sokhib Suvonkulov and Eraj Rjabov appear likely to start.
Fatkhullo Fatkhuloev and Ibrahim Rabimov have played an integral role in Tajikistan’s successful matches through recent years and have both been named in the squad to face Australia, while Dilshod Vasiev is likely to lead the Tajik attack.
Australia are also clear favourites to beat Tajikistan in their first ever competitive encounter on Tuesday, and represent similarly good value in goal scorer/correct score markets.