International Friendlies Preview

Club football takes a break this weekend with International Friendlies fast-approaching.
Club football takes a break this weekend with International Friendlies fast-approaching.
Friday 24 March

7/4 Tunisia | Draw 19/10 | Cameroon 18/10 (15:00)

Tunisia’s last outing was a 2-0 AFCON quarter-final loss to Burkina Faso in which the Eagles of Carthage let in two late goals. Henryk Kasperczak has named a strong squad including AFCON standout Naim Sliti (Lille). Cameroon are fresh from the unlikeliest of AFCON 2017 conquests, memories of Vincent Aboubaker’s magical strike still simple to recall. A friendly atmosphere may see an open match; look for Both Teams to Score.

17/20 Russia | 9/4 | Ivory Coast 33/10 (18:00)

Top Russian league scorer Fedor Smolov (Krasnodar) was one of a few interesting call-ups by manager Stanislav Cherchesov for the forthcoming friendlies. Alexander Bukharov (FC Rostov) and Brazilian born Mario Fernandes (CSKA Moscow) were also named in the first squad of 2017. Misfiring Wilfried Bony and Max Gradel were two of numerous dropped players following Ivory Coast’s AFCON disaster. If Under 2.5 Goals offers value take it, otherwise the home win should suffice.


Monday 27 March

12/10 Nigeria | 24/10 | Burkina Faso 21/10 (22:00)

Nigeria have won all five of their matches after failing to qualify for AFCON 2017, including World Cup Qualifier wins over Zambia and Algeria. This friendly against Burkina Faso, hosted at Hive Stadium in London - home of English fourth-tier side Barnet FC - will be a tough test in the lead up to the Super Eagles’ 2019 AFCON qualifier against South Africa. Burkina Faso have named a strong squad full of AFCON 2017 stars that finished third. Nigeria have never lost to Burkina Faso and the home win is tipped.

Tuesday 28 March

15/20 Egypt | 51/20 | Togo 36/10 (17:00)

Egypt capitulated to a heart-breaking 2-1 loss in the AFCON 2017 final in Libreville after dominating much of the match for the first hour. That was their last outing and manager Hector Cuper will only name the squad in midweek. Togo’s AFCON 2017 was a disappointing one as they were knocked out at the group stage with only one point. Egypt are the stronger side but take the short price on the home Win/Draw Double Chance.

43/20 Russia | 22/10 | Belgium 5/4 (18:00)

A strong Russian unit are set to face Belgium in an important fixture prior to the start of the Confederations Cup in June. Fit-again Vincent Kompany has been left out of the Belgium squad but Roberto Martinez has recalled Radja Nainggolan. The Red Devils are top of Group H European World Cup qualifying with four wins from four matches, scoring 21 goals and conceding just once. I’m tipping the away Win/Draw Double Chance.

19/20 South Africa | 9/4 | Angola 3/1 (19:00)

Owen Da Gama will step in once again as SAFA are yet to appoint a new manager for Bafana Bafana. The national side are unbeaten in 14 matches, at the time of writing, since October 2015 and drew away in Mozambique despite the recent Shakes Mashaba debacle. Angola are in terrible form and have lost seven of their last eight matches. Bafana Bafana have won their last three meetings with Angola and are tipped for another win.

37/20 Netherlands | 43/20 | Italy 29/20 (20:45)

Dutch manager Danny Blind has named five Premier League players in his squad for a World Cup qualifier against Bulgaria and friendly against Italy. This is amid glittering names from across Europe and a slew of Ajax Amsterdam players. Italy have yet to name their squad for their respective ties, at the time of writing, but Mario Balotelli could be on manager Gian Piero Venura’s list after scoring 10 goals in 16 matches for Nice. Both Teams to Score is the tip for what should be an energetic clash.

23/20 Rep. of Ireland | 21/10 | Iceland 5/2 (20:45)

The Republic of Ireland are unbeaten in five matches since their European Championship exit against France last year. Burnley trio Jeff Hendrick, Stephen Ward and Robbie Brady have all been named in the squad that will face EURO 2016 heroes Iceland. Since their own exit to France, they’ve been inconsistent with losses to Croatia, Chile and Mexico. Back the home win here.

7/20 Portugal | 15/4 | Sweden 17/2 (20:45)

EURO 2016 champions Portugal have lived up to the tag by thrashing teams that haven’t challenged them, but lost to Switzerland in World Cup qualification and remain second in the group. This friendly follows a qualification tie with Hungary and a full strength squad has been named, although this match may be used by Fernando Santos as an opportunity to test different combinations. Sweden also have important qualification duty prior to this match, and have suffered inconsistent form in recent times. Back the home win in this one.

23/20 France | 22/10 | Spain 49/20 (21:00)

France are unbeaten since their EURO 2016 final loss to Portugal and currently top their World Cup qualification group with three wins and a draw. They should cruise through their tie with Luxembourg and will be intent on a proud result here, but will have to do so without some key names left out by Didier Deschamps. Spain have named a strong squad for their World Cup qualifier against Israel and this friendly, with Gerard Deulofeu the only real surprise. The away Win/Draw Double Chance is the bet here.

TREBLE @ 8/1
Nigeria Win 12/10
South Africa Win 19/20
Netherlands vs Italy BTTS 11/10

Written by Rick John Henry