Saudi Arabia clash with North Korea plus China’s Uzbekistan test
The top two spots in Group B are still very much up for grabs after Saudi Arabia slipped up against China last time out.
This means the Green Falcons must pick themselves up against their upcoming opponents the Thousand-Mile Horse, or face elimination.
North Korea v Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia are favourites at 6/5 to take all three points from their battle with North Korea, and they certainly need them, as Group B becomes ever more competitive.
The Green Falcons struggled against China last time out and will need to channel the spirit which saw them make the recent 2014 Gulf Cup of Nations final if they are to stand any chance of progressing.
Although Naif Haziz fluffed his spot kick chance against Team Dragon, it was his guile that won the chance, so back him at 7/4 to make amends and score anytime.
With star striker Nasser Al-Shamrani still sidelined, Saudi Arabia will need their attack to step up against a stingy North Korea rearguard.
Salem Al-Dawsari is 8/1 to fire home first having shown promise in the Green Falcon’s opening fixture, or 11/4 in the anytime market.
The Thousand Mile Horse are, meanwhile, 5/2 to throw a cat amongst the pigeons and shock Saudi Arabia with a win.
However, North Korea illustrated little threat up front so far and were lucky that last opposition Uzbekistan were wasteful with their chances.
Pak Kwang-Ryong is by far their biggest threat and almost grabbed a last gasp equaliser against the White Wolves. The Basel-owned attacker is available at 11/4 to net anytime and the make the difference, but Saudi Arabia should still have to much up front for the Thousand-Mile Horse.
China v Uzbekistan
After their shock victory over Saudi Arabia, China have a fantastic chance to capitalise on the open nature of Group B and are 12/5 to continue their fantastic form and beat pool favourites Uzbekistan.
The White Wolves were far from convincing in their opener against North Korea, but are still 13/10 to take the spoils.
Uzbekistan boast two match winners in the form of skipper Server Djeparov, who was the architect of their opening goal, plus scorer and starlet Igor Sergeev.
These two influential attackers are both 2/1 in the anytime market to make the breakthrough against China.
Team Dragon often dominated against the Green Falcons, and former Portsmouth coach Alain Perrin will be hoping for a repeat performance.
Stopper Wang Delai became a national Chinese hero after now famously saving Saudi Arabia star Haziz’s penalty, following the advice of a 12-year-old ball boy on which way to dive. Lucky Delai is now 15/8 to keep a clean sheet against Uzbekistan.
Perrin’s men were widely regarded as a defensive force but also illustrated they have the craft to carve through backlines. Their only goal of the competition so far arrived from a set piece, with midfielder Yu Hai sealing the win with a deflected free kick.
Back Yu Hai at 8/1 to strike first again or talented attacker Wu Lei to net last at the same price, as China march on with top spot in their sights.