WCQ Playoff - Second Leg
MATCH UP STATS
WCQ Playoff - Second Leg
To qualify for Russia 2018Australia: $1.45 at LadbrokesHonduras: $3.02 at Sportsbet
AUSTRALIA will be the happier of the two teams heading into Wednesday night’s decisive World Cup qualifying clash in Sydney.
Poor pitch conditions and some farcical refereeing made for an interesting affair last weekend in San Pedro Sula, where Ange Postecoglou’s men had the bulk of the play without finding the finishing touch.
Tomi Juric missed a pair of good chances as it ended goalless, but the Socceroos are nevertheless in the box seat to progress to Russia 2018.
Besides the obvious advantage of playing on familiar turf at Stadium Australia, the home side will regain some big names that did not feature in Honduras.
Mark Milligan and Mathew Leckie are back from suspension, Robbie Kruse is pushing to prove his fitness and Tim Cahill could also get the green light.
The first leg was also an excellent run-about for skipper Mile Jedinak, who had very little football under his belt before that commanding display in Honduras.
Meanwhile, the visitors have some significant hurdles to overcome.
While the Aussies enjoyed five-star service and state-of-the-art recovery technology on a chartered flight home, their rivals had to slum it on commercial airliners with a lengthy layover in Los Angeles.
Thus, the Hondurans did not arrive until Monday – almost a full 24 hours after the Socceroos touched down.
According to Sam Kerr, that extra day in transit could put a serious strain on players who are not accustomed to such a gruelling schedule.
“People always ask me how I function after long-haul flights and my response is, ‘I just have to’, so I’m sure Honduras will still be up for a battle on Wednesday night,” the Matildas star said in her column for the ABC.
“That being said, I think all the travel will be a little bit too much for them and I’m going to have a guess and say most of them wouldn’t have done many flights to Australia in their lifetime.”
Socceroos betting specials
Online bookmakers have a stack of Socceroos bonus offers in play for Wednesday’s crunch clash.
If you have a crack at the correct score market, Sportsbet.com.au will give you up to $50 back in bonus cash if your team wins and your bet loses.
Neds.com.au is paying special odds on selected players to score in a win for the home side, along with an all-Aussie multi featuring the Socceroos, Kangaroos and Wallabies all to salute at $7.50 odds.
Bet with Ladbrokes.com.au and pocket an early payout if your team leads by two goals at any stage, as well as boosted odds on first goalscorer bets, correct score wagers and Socceroos Footy Freaks doubles.
Best bets for first goalscorer
Tomi Juric ($5 at William Hill) – Despite those near-misses in Honduras, the 26-year-old centre forward should lead the line once again in Sydney. Some bookies have him priced under $4 to open the scoring, but you can get much better odds at William Hill.
Aaron Mooy ($13 at William Hill) – With the likes of Jedinak and Milligan back in the mix, Australia’s star playmaker should find some space going forward. His set-pieces were ordinary in the away leg, but we know what Mooy can do with a dead ball on the edge of the area.
Carlo Costly ($10 at Neds) – This guy is the Tim Cahill of Honduras. He very nearly struck a crucial blow off the bench in the opening clash, and there is every chance he will come on late and play the same role in Sydney if the deadlock is not yet broken.
Anthony Lozano ($12 at Neds) – The Barcelona B striker’s service in San Pedro Sula consisted entirely of long, lofted balls and the occasional loose back-pass. If Honduras can given him something to work with on the counter, those $12 odds at Neds might be worth a dip.
Australia vs. Honduras match tip
Australian football fans have been burned too many times before, so nothing can be taken for granted. Even so, the Socceroos should walk into this clash with every expectation of booking a place in Russia 2018.
This is a rustic, agricultural Honduran outfit that will struggle to bounce back from a series of long flights. By contrast, the Aussies are well rested and should have some of their best players back in action.
Honduras only need that precious away goal to turn things upside down, but Australia should get this done.
Australia half-time/Australia full-time – $2.40 at Sportsbet