Sports Mole previews Thursday’s World Cup Qualifying – Asia clash between Iraq and Indonesia, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
After cruising through the playoff round, Indonesia will begin the second stage of the 2026 World Cup qualifying with an away game against Iraq on Thursday.
For Iraq, this represents the start of their qualifying journey, and like their opponents, they will be looking to finish in the top two of Group F, which would secure them a place in the third round....Click Here To Continue Reading>>
Iraq are hoping to qualify for the World Cup for the second time after their previous appearance took place in the 1986 tournament.
The omens may be positive for Iraq, as Mexico were the hosts in 1986 and they are one of three countries that will hold the 2026 edition.
If Iraq are to end their 30-year wait for World Cup appearance, they will have to negotiate at least two rounds of qualifying.
First, Jesus Casas’s side need to finish in the top two of a group that contains Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia.
Thursday’s contest represents Iraq’s first meeting with Indonesia since they claimed a 2-0 victory in Asia Cup qualifying in November 2013.
Indonesia are competing in the second round after they eased to a 12-0 aggregate victory over Brunei in the first stage of qualifying.
Although they appeared at the 1938 tournament as the Dutch East Indies, they are yet to qualify for the World Cup since proclaiming independence in 1945.
Not only are they looking to reach the World Cup for the first time as an independent nation, but they are also hoping to participate in the Asia Cup for the first time since 2007.
As the lowest-ranked nation in the group, Indonesia will have their work cut out to reach the next stage of World Cup qualifying, but they will head into Thursday’s encounter off the back of three consecutive victories.
In fact, they have only lost one of their last six internationals, with their only defeat in that period taking place in June’s 2-0 friendly defeat to World champions Argentina.
Iraq form (all competitions):
Indonesia World Cup Qualifying – Asia form:
Indonesia form (all competitions):
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After starting Iraq’s two internationals in October, goalkeeper Ahmed Basil could keep Jalal Hasan and Fahad Talib out of the side.
With over 80 caps to his name, the experienced Ali Adnan is expected to feature in central defence alongside Frans Putros.
Aymen Hussein is set to lead the line for the hosts, and the 27-year-old striker will be looking to add to his 16-goal international tally.
As for Indonesia, the majority of their squad play their club football in their domestic league, although they do have players that ply their trade in England, Belgium, Norway, Netherlands, Japan, South Korea and Malaysia.
Nadeo Argawinata is expected to start in goal, and he could be shielded by a back five featuring Asnawi Mangkualam, Sandy Walsh, Rizky Ridho, Elkan Baggott and Shayne Pattynama.
Having scored six goals in 10 international appearances, 26-year-old forward Dimas Drajad represents one of the visitors’s main attacking threats.
Iraq possible starting lineup:Basil; Sadoon, Putros, Adnan, Doski; Al-Ammari, Attwan; Bayesh, Resan, Jasim; Hussein
Indonesia possible starting lineup:Argawinta; Mangkualam, Walsh, Ridho, Baggott, Pattynama; Sulistyawan, Kambuaya, Irianto, Klok, Ramdani; Drajad
We say: Iraq 2-0 Indonesia
Iraq have won just one of their last 11 World Cup qualifiers, but while that record may be underwhelming, we still think that they will have enough to beat a lowly-ranked Indonesian side.
For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.
Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting over 1.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 1.5:data
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Arsenal beat Wolverhampton Wanderers to go four points clear at top of table
Arsenal move four points clear at the top of the Premier League table courtesy of a 2-1 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers in North London.
Arsenal have moved four points clear at the top of the Premier League table courtesy of a 2-1 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers in North London.
Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard were on the scoresheet for Mikel Arteta’s side, who have opened up a four-point advantage over second-placed Manchester City in the division, albeit having now played a game more from the reigning champions.
Matheus Cunha had one back for Wolves late on, but the visitors could not find a second, with Gary O’Neil’s side suffering their seventh league loss of the campaign....Click Here To Continue Reading>>
Wolves started full of confidence, but the visitors found themselves behind in the sixth minute of the contest, with Saka firing into the bottom corner after breaking into the penalty box.
Smart work from Gabriel Jesus led to Takehiro Tomiyasu having space on the edge of the box, and the defender fed the ball into Saka, who managed to break past Craig Dawson before picking out the back of the net.
Arsenal then doubled their advantage in the 13th minute through Odegaard, who found the bottom corner with a smart finish after Oleksandr Zinchenko had picked out his teammate following a one-two with Gabriel Jesus.
Jose Sa made a smart save to deny Leandro Trossard in the 22nd minute, but the Wolves goalkeeper then had to leave the field with an injury shortly after, which led to Daniel Bentley being introduced.
The chances kept coming for Arsenal, with Odegaard missing the target after Gabriel Martinelli had a shot blocked, with Wolves struggling to get out of their own half at the Emirates Stadium.
Martinelli then hit the post for the home side in the latter stages of the first period, before Jesus somehow fired over the crossbar from close range after an excellent delivery from Saka.
Wolves had a chance to halve the deficit in the latter stages of the first period when Hwang Hee-chan burst through on goal, but Arsenal goalkeeper David Raya was quick off his line to deal with the danger.
The Gunners called for a penalty early in the second half when Jesus went down inside the box under pressure from Max Kilman, but the referee was not interested and VAR agreed.
Wolves then came close to registering in the 54th minute through Matheus Cunha, but the forward’s powerful strike was kept out by Raya during an open period of the match.
Trossard lifted one over the away side’s crossbar just before the hour, before Declan Rice missed the target after smart work from Odegaard, with the score remaining 2-0 heading into the final 25 minutes of action.
Saka came close to his second of the match in the 76th minute, but the England international’s strike from distance just missed the top corner, with Bentley getting nowhere near it.
The Wolves goalkeeper managed to make two excellent saves to deny Trossard and Saka in quick succession in the 83rd minute, and the visitors then scored, with Cunha smashing into the far corner from just inside the box after Arsenal had failed to clear their lines.
Bentley tipped an effort from Eddie Nketiah onto the post in the 87th minute, with the visitors staying alive heading into stoppage time, but they were unable to find a second, as the Gunners managed to secure a huge three points in their battle for the title.
Arsenal will be aiming to make it a sixth straight win in all competitions when they head to Luton Town on Tuesday, while Wolves will be bidding to bounce back from the loss when they host Burnley on the same night.
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Sir Jim Ratcliffe ‘hoping Manchester United deal will be completed by Christmas’
Sir Jim Ratcliffe hopes that his 25% purchase of Manchester United will be completed by Christmas, according to a report.
British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe is reportedly hopeful that his 25% purchase of Manchester United will be completed by Christmas.
An announcement on the 71-year-old’s arrival as a minority shareholder was expected to be made during the November international break, but there was a delay due to the complex nature of the deal.
According to The Mirror, the process is now reaching its final stages, and Ratcliffe is hopeful that he will be able to take over football operations at Old Trafford before Christmas....Click Here To Continue Reading>>
The report claims that INEOS performance director Sir Dave Brailsford is set to make the move to the club, and he will play a leading role in the changes that will be made to the sporting department.
Richard Arnold’s departure as CEO has already been confirmed, with Jean-Claude Blanc widely expected to arrive in that position once Ratcliffe’s deal has been announced.
Blanc worked for the French Tennis Federation as a chief executive before switching to football, and he has previously been the Juventus CEO and marketing executive of Paris Saint-Germain.
The 60-year-old is currently the chief executive of INEOS Sport, and it is believed that he will be Arnold’s permanent replacement in the senior position.
John Murtough could remain as football director for now, but it is understood that a change will also be made in that position, with Crystal Palace’s Dougie Freedman regarded by many to be the frontrunner.
The role of director of football operations David Harrison is also in severe doubt, with Ratcliffe seemingly preparing to make a number of changes to what he views to be a failing department.
Ratcliffe is said to be taking advice from Man United’s legendary former manager Sir Alex Ferguson when it comes to his overhaul of the football side of the business.
At one stage, it appeared that Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani would be completing a 100% takeover of Man United from the Glazer family.
However, the Qatari banker recently withdrew his offer due to his frustrations in dealing with the Glazers, who signalled last November that they were open to discussing a potential sale of the club.
Ratcliffe is coming in at initial 25%, but it is understood that the Brit wants to complete a staggered takeover in the coming years.
Man United will be back in Premier League action on Saturday evening following their 3-3 draw with Galatasaray in the Champions League, facing a trip to St James’ Park to take on Newcastle United.
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