Weblog: The football punter

Full credit to Kazakhstan for keeping to traditions

I can't get to grips with these long weekends of international football but thankfully I'm not the only traditionalist left cold by these funky kick-off times.

Hats off to the Kazakhstan FA for arranging their European Championship qualifier against Iceland for the traditional slot at 3pm on a Saturday.

I wonder who Soccer Saturday will send to cover the game. Chris Kamara? Tony Cottee? Maybe John Salako will get the plum gig.

There's no room for sentiment in football betting, though, and I don't expect the Kazakhs to be rewarded for their no-nonsense scheduling.

Iceland started their qualifying campaign with three cracking wins over Turkey, Latvia and Holland (who you might remember from the semi-finals of last year's World Cup).

There was no shame in their 2-1 defeat in the Czech Republic last time out and I reckon the Icelanders can keep their cool and pick up another three points this afternoon.

In fact, I'll be having the tried-and-tested Iceland-Crawley double today. The League One side have been flying under Dean Saunders, winning five of their last eight games and giving a good account of themselves in their defeat to leaders Bristol City.

They're at home to Gillingham, who have won only one of their last seven league games, and I'm banking on Crawley continuing their, er, crawl up the table.

Hopefully I'll be celebrating a nice payout by five o'clock - and, more importantly, resisting the temptation to play up my winnings on Andorra versus Bosnia at 7.45pm.

Be strong, Bunter, be strong.



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Match in Focus

17:00 TODAY SS5

Israel v Wales

Home Win Draw Away Win
Key stats
  • Each of Israel’s last 26 matches have featured at least two goals
Expert verdict
Wales have struggled to live up to early optimism in previous qualification campaigns, but Chris Coleman’s side are unbeaten in their four group matches and have earned credible draws against Belgium and Bosnia. However, Israel have scored nine goals in three qualifiers against Andorra, Cyrpus and Bosnia themselves.