Friday, January 4, 2019

AFC 2019--Round One

Natakatubu Syndicate Members,

Must we really Vicey? Yes, we must.

We must travel to Asia. It’s home to nearly two thirds of the World’s population. It’s where virtually every amenity you shamelessly take for granted was manufactured. It’s the future home of football.

Hell, if CAF can’t find a host for the 2019 African Championship (again), the future may be sooner than we all think. 

Say what you will about these suspect Sheiks, at least the can guarantee public safety during a tournament. Good thing I held off on booking those advance tickets to Cameroon. Damned Ambazonian Crisis! 

Anyway, even if it’s not the WM, it shall prove fun. Believe it or not, fun is occasionally allowed in a World where an endless supply of morbid news consistently crushes what little optimism for humanity technological anomie hasn’t already destroyed. Life’s far too short to take seriously all the time. That’s why we have Syndicate Chapters. Take a break with your friendly bookie.

Know next to nothing about the current state of AFC teams? No problem. That’s why your friendly bookie wrote a 30-page-primer section for you. I even had the courtesy to get most of the heinously depressing things going on with these countries out of the way so that you can engage in some frivolous fun with a semi-clear conscience.

All 24-teams are scouted, handicapped, and drawn up. Consider yourself an instant expert on everything from the Vietnamese lineup to the Kyrgyz prospects. Call up your old Gulf mates to see what they think about their team. Re-establish contact with all your East Asian and Aussie friends so you can watch a few matches and argue over the formations. Head down to your local Middle Eastern community enclave to snag some great grub and make a few new friends over football. The Global Game remains your ticket to a great time with just about anyone on the planet. Make the most of it whenever you can.     

Do note that this chapter’s scouting coverage constitutes perhaps the most pathetically platitudinous yet. It’s even more drab than those papers I ghosted to get the likes of numerous “M”s through Grad School. It was actually my great pleasure, gentlemen, as it has not been such a horrible lot at all to reside in the shadows. Some are simply so driven to overachieve at every project that they’ll do so even at the expense of perpetually underachieving in life. One learns to accept and embrace it ; )

Moving right along...let’s draw up a refresher of the rules, beginning with the Onset Betting Odds you’ll find in the preceding post.

Vicey’s Fearless Group Prediction (2 to 1 Odds for bookie)

 1) U.A.E.  
 2) Bahrain
 3) Thailand
 4) India

Here we have a “Group Prediction”, You can only bet AGAINST the bookie in this instance. If the Group finishes exactly as the bookie has predicted, you owe him twice your wager. Should it finish in any other permutation, he owes you your base wager. For example, should you bet $10 against, the bookie will owe you $10 UNLESS the four teams finish PRECISELY as he predicted. Should they finish precisely as he predicted, you owe him $20. 

Next example.

Round of 16 Odds

 U.A.E. (Straight Up)
 Bahrain (Straight Up)
 Thailand (2 to 1)
 India (3 to 1)

Should you bet $10 on the U.A.E. attaining (and they do) …you’re entitled to $10.
Should you bet $10 on the Bahrain attaining (and they do) …you’re entitled to $10.
Should you bet $10 on the Thailand attaining (and they do) …you’re entitled to $20.
Should you bet $10 on the India winning (and they do) …you’re entitled to $30.

Should the side not attain, you owe the bookie $10. 

The same logic applies to the other Round wagers.

Semifinal Odds

 U.A.E. (Straight Up)
 Bahrain (3 to 1)
 Thailand (8 to 1)
 India (12 to 1)

Should you bet $10 on U.A.E. attaining (and they do) …you’re entitled to $10.
Should you bet $10 on Bahrain attaining (and they do) …you’re entitled to $30.
Should you bet $10 on the Thailand attaining (and they do) …you’re entitled to $80.
Should you bet $10 on the India attaining (and they do) …you’re entitled to $120.

Should the side not attain, you owe the bookie $10.

Moving on, we’ll cover the Line Bets: 

Japan vs. Turkmenistan


The Line: Japan +3 Goals

The Favorite (Japan) is favored to win by 3 goals. If you bet on Turkmenistan (for some reason), there are three ways you can win the bet:

1) Turkmenistan loses by less than 3 goals.

2) Match is a draw

3) Turkmenistan wins 

Conversely, there is only one way to win if you bet on Japan

1) Japan wins by more than 3 goals

Should Japan win by precisely 3 goals, THE BET IS A WASH. THE BET IS A TIE. NO ONE OWES ANYONE ANYTHING.


1) As always, the bookie reserves the right to roll the line should too much money come in on one side. Rest assured, however, that your friendly AND fastidious bookie makes note of ALL electronic time-stamps and wagers will be accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis.   

2) Absolute deadlines for submission will be set one hour prior to kickoff. 

Alles Klar? Let’s rock the lines.

Saturday, January 5th

U.A.E. vs. Bahrain 


I find myself excited at the prospect of a cracking opener here. Zayed’s Boys hope to make big statement against their main regional rivals in their first competitive meeting since that highly entertaining group stage draw four years ago. That was the infamous fixture in which an early Bahraini defensive error led to Mabkhout’s opening strike thirteen seconds in. Later, centerback Mohamed Husain would put one into his own net, officially eliminating his own country from the tournament.

Expect an early push with so much pride at stake. Unfortunately, it looks as if we won’t behold the same gripping end-to-end contest we saw last time. These two teams are built cancel one another out tactically. Might be the case that the most action takes place among the ultra-rich Sunni sheiks in the stands. They’ve much to discuss in the way of falconry and female fecundity. Perhaps they’ll start talks for an east-bound causeway too. 

Bookie tips a defensive battle with a late winner from the hosts. Note that I predicted the exact same thing when discussing the Qatar-U.A.E. opening last tournament and turned out to be completely wrong.

THE LINE: U.A.E. +1 Goal

Sunday, January 6th

Australia vs. Jordan


Easy enough start for the Socceroos. Hard to take their opposition seriously after three lackluster friendlies and an inconsistent lineup.  Bookie still confronts conflicting data about Borkelman’s final squad selection on various footballing websites, but I think I’ve got the general gist. Musa Al Taamari is their only real attacking threat.

Oh well. We’ll break it down when we can. For now, I can’t forecast much of a contest for the defending champions. The Chivalrous appear to have enough of a midfield to neutralize Leckie and Kruse for a while. Amer Shafi—a.k.a. “The Whale of Asia” can also keep them in it for a bit. 

He could damn well be the “Bluberella of Asia” for all it matters. Doubtful they’ll be able to go the distance. Bookie projects a 2-nil scoreline, even if takes eighty plus minutes to get there.  

THE LINE: Australia +2 Goals

Thailand vs. India


Bangkok takes on the Bengals. So very interesting. These two already have met no fewer than twenty-one times, mostly in their respective domestic invitational tournaments; the Nehru and King’s Cup. Beyond those long-defunct-competitions they’ve organized exhibitions, the last of which occurred eight years ago.

Your friendly bookie very much wants to believe in Stephen Constantine’s Blue Tigers. Plenty of others are firmly on the bandwagon after the unbeaten streak and the salivating prospect that they actually might win their first match in a continental competition. One could have counted me as “Curry Azzurri Booster” until I saw the final roster…and the woeful pre-tournament friendlies. ; ( 

Nah. Rajevac’s three strikers will have a field day here. Dangda, Kraishorn, or maybe even Chaided with the brace. 

THE LINE: Thailand +3 Goals

Syria vs. Palestine 


Stange doesn’t need Stasi credentials to succeed here. More hard luck for our beloved Knights of Canaan, forced to face a ferocious attack and a frightening East German tactician in their opening match. Dammit. I so desperately want to write something positive about the Palestinians. 

Actually, I can. Palestine actually drew then defeated Syria in a pair of exhibitions played in Jordan back in 2012. They’ve also managed to hold their own against China and Iran in recent friendlies. It seems almost impossible for them to earn three or even one point in this instance, I’ll augur they’ll keep it close. 

Onto the table plops my soul. We’ll set a low line. 

THE LINE: Syria +1 Goal

Monday, January 7th

China PR vs. Kyrgyzstan


Alright. Our first “Border Battle”! (Unless one falsely assumes that the Xinjiang Uighur Region is actually an autonomous entity). It’s a year of disastrous anniversaries for the Chinese Regime, but their football team should get off on the right foot here. Still haven’t been able to ascertain the final Kyrgyz Roster, but it’s a complete mismatch whether Kozubayev makes it or not. 

Lippi plays his true eleven fairly close to the vest. It’s been a complete hodgepodge in the pre-tournament tune-ups. I take this as a sign that he does in fact have a strong tactical plan. Keep expectations low and they’ll always be exceeded. 

The White Falcons do enter with some confidence after securing two victories in the friendlies. Otherwise the line would be higher.

The Reds roll.

THE LINE: China PR +2 Goals

South Korea vs. the Philippines


Here’s a drubbing for you. Of course you want to bet on your Taeguks, brothers. You’ll simply have to hit a high line if you wish to do so here. A Sven-Goran-Erikson three-man defensive front against six top-tier attackers? Duterte himself couldn’t write a joke this bad. 

The PFF hasn’t dared schedule a match against a titan like this in several decades. In seven previous meetings the South Koreans have won by a combined unanswered 36 goals. 

Tune in for the “Street Dog Slaughter” if you please. I don’t think this Philippine squad could beat a local university team.

THE LINE: South Korea +3 Goals

Iran vs. Yemen 


Another completely unequal fixture. Yes, I know brothers. I feel you. Talking football when there’s a humanitarian crisis proven to be linked to your own profligate and rudderless society just plain sucks. A lopsided result here doesn’t help. Bookie will watch with interest, but just might have to avert his eyes if it goes totally awry. 

Good news in that Quieroz isn’t known for running up the score. Moreover, he can’t really afford to given the injury risks faced by his most prominent players. Might be the case that he even rests some of the starters here.

He can afford a narrower victory here and the Yemenis will overachieve.

THE LINE: Iran +2 Goals

Tuesday, January 8th

Iraq vs. Vietnam


Here’s one that may prove a little tighter than expected. Somehow the bookie doesn’t foresee Mohanad Ali or Dawood gaining traction immediately. A very talented young Iraqi side needs time to gel as a unit and the Golden Dragons actually have a decent counter. Wouldn’t at all be surprised to see it end in a draw.

We’ll tip the Lions of Mesopotamia anyway as the Vietnamese back line is inherently looser than a botched Labiaplasty. They can keep it tight for a while, but one of these guys will eventually find a way through.

The Rafidain’s by a hair follicle.

THE LINE: Iraq +1 Goal

Saudi Arabia vs. North Korea


Hate to pick a winner here as these two are some of the scheistiest bastards that ever scheisted. In a rematch of one of the bizarre group stage fixtures from 2015, the Chollima seek to prove that they can keep up with a favored team for more than 45 minutes. They did indeed hold their own for some time until three goals in quick succession left them on the wrong end of a 4-1 rout. 

Both nations bring considerably weaker sides to the tournament this cycle. Bookie absolutely hates the Saudi 4-5-1 and the garbage matches that it will likely produce. The lack of any rational intent in the final North Korean squad selection only reason I can’t predict a draw or even upset with conviction.

Grrr..Saudis pull it off.  

THE LINE: Saudi Arabia +1 Goal

Wednesday, January 9th

Japan vs. Turkmenistan


An excellent opportunity for the Samurai to ignore all of the weaknesses associated with their transitional phase and engage in a good old-fashioned romp. The Emeralds are another side that would struggle to match up with your indoor coed team. Should the Blues fail to rack up a convincing goal differential here, your friendly bookie might officially write off their tournament prospects. 

I’ll be generous enough to supply a line low-enough to merit your consideration. I’ll also allow a horizontal parlay if anyone thinks they’ll earn a greater margin of victory than the Taeguks. Hell, I’ll even throw in that copy of the Ruhnama I’ve been seriously trying to offload for years if you beat both spreads. 

Bring on the wagers.

THE LINE: Japan +3 Goals

Uzbekistan vs. Oman 


No one is permitted to talk smack about my Uzbeks for the duration of the tournament. I’ve done a complete 180 and grown uncommonly fond of these guys. Their sparkling run to the Quarterfinals begins now. Kick back and enjoy the White Wolf Wizardry.

If the FIFA Rankings are to be believed (which they absolutely aren’t) this constitutes an underdog pick. Technically I have to hit the button. It doesn’t truly feel like a special line, however, as these Muscat Mites are such a lousy team. Ah hell with it. I’ll hit the damned button.


THE LINE: Uzbekistan +1 Goal

Qatar vs. Lebanon


I can and will predict a draw here. The blasted Maroon Vinyls are largely overrated and the too many are underestimating the Cedars following some of their recent setbacks. As I remarked in the primer analysis, very little separates these two teams. Lebanon can still Cinderella their way into the quarters provided they get their act together. 

I’ll gladly roll this line quickly and double down should anyone wish to back the Peninsulars. By all means the neighbors of the hosts should be favorites so close to camp. Really going against the grain here. It’s a rapacious hunch that can’t be suppressed. 

THE LINE: Pick em’