Last weekend’s five-game accumulator didn’t quite go as planned, and once again we find ourselves looking to pick the so-called sure-things as we look to swell the coffers again.
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This week it is all about international football as Asian prepares for the next round of qualifying ahead of the 2011 Asian Cup, while the rest of the world face-off in a series of friendly matches with many of the participating nations in the World Cup looking to fine-tune their teams ahead of the biggest sporting event on the planet.
Three matches in the Asian Cup qualifiers look like being home bankers.
Australia take on Indonesia in Brisbane this week, with the Socceroos looking to maintain their fine home form which has seen them win four and draw one of their last five matches on home soil. The Indonesians may be outside the running for Qatar 2011, the visitors are reported to field an experienced side in an effort to avoid any humiliation, while the Aussies will be made up of locally based players only as some of the fringe names hoping for a place at the World Cup look to impress coach Pim Verbeek.
Japan, who will also take their place in South Africa this summer, are also looking for positive result this week when Bahrain come to town as the Asian powerhouse look to lick their wounds after losing 3-1 at home to South Korea last time out. Coach Takeshi Okada has responded to that defeat recalling several of his big-named stars including Shunsuke Nakamura, Keisuke Honda, Makoto Hasebe and Takayuki Morimoto. Bahrain come into the match off of two defeats to Yemen and Kuwait, and having qualified for Qatar already, there is little pressure on the visitors to perform.
Lastly, Iran look forward to their first home match of 2010 as Bryan Robson’s Thailand arrive to Tehran, while the visitors needing a win to qualify for Qatar. Team Melli have already qualified for the 2011 competition but coach Afshin Ghotbi is using the match as an opportunity to home in on his strongest squad and begin the building process for the future. That has seen former Bayern Munich star Ali Karimi earn a recall, while Spanish-based stars Javad Nekounam and Masoud Shojaei are also in the match squad.