Football tips: We’ve a fab 24/1 Friday evening international footy four-fold

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Some people say international football’s boring – and usually when England are playing it is – but tell that to the North Macedonians who took down Italy in World Cup qualifying and now have their sights firmly set on Cristiano Ronaldo & Co in the final playoff round for Qatar 2022.

There’s plenty at stake in African World Cup qualifying on Friday evening too with some of the continent’s heavyweights going head-to-head in the first leg of their playoff ties for a World Cup spot – and there’s also a few half-decent friendlies knocking about where we might find a tasty tip or two!

7:30pm – Egypt v Senegal: Under 1.5 Goals

Live on Mola TV (UK) & FIFA’s Youtube channel (Ireland)

The last name both these sides played was the African Cup of Nations final where Senegal triumphed on penalty kicks after a gruelling 120-minute war of attrition against Carlos Quieroz’s side.

The Pharaohs scored just five goals across seven games in that tournament, all four of their knockout round games going to extra-time and three of them finishing 0-0 despite the additional 30 minutes. That’s the way Quieroz likes his team to play, banking on the attacking talent of Mo Salah to crack open opposing defences.


They managed to stifle Salah’s Liverpool teammate Sadio Mane and the rest of his talented compatriots in the final just a couple of months ago and it’d be no surprise to see an equally cagey affair play out in the first leg in Cairo tonight.

Both the draw and 0-0 on the correct score (6/4 and 7/2 or thereabouts respectively) appeal, but the margin of error provided by Under 1.5 goals appeals more for our acca.

7:30pm – Ghana v Nigeria: Both Teams to Score

Live on Mola TV (UK) & FIFA’s Youtube channel (Ireland)

Ghana come into this crucial first leg without Andre Ayew (suspended) and on the back of a massively disappointing AFCON performance where they collected a single point in three games and were dumped out of the group stage.

That showing is all the more surprising given they matched Nigeria’s record in their World Cup qualifying group, winning four games, drawing once and losing once. A 1-0 win over South Africa in the final game of that campaign on home turf proved crucial there and they’ll need to summon a similar display against a Nigerian team packed with familiar names.

They were also underwhelming at the tournament earlier in the year, bowing out in the last-16 to Tunisia, but their side was hamstrung by several high-profile withdrawals. Now, Victor Osimhen, Emmanuel Dennis, Ademola Lookman and Odion Ighalo are all available, though Wilfrid Ndidi is out due to injury.

That attacking talent and Ghana’s fragility at the back suggest the Super Eagles should get an away goal here at least, and Jordan Ayew will be expected to lead the line for the Black Stars. We’d suggest Both Teams to Score is worth a shot at the prices and with so much on the line.


7:15pm – Luxembourg v Northern Ireland: Draw

Live on Sky Sport Premier League

The stakes are a tad lower in this international friendly at the Stade de Luxembourg, but the result and performance will be of interest to followers of Ian Baraclough’s side as their opponents are much trickier now than they used to be – just ask any Republic of Ireland fan.

Luxembourg’s 1-0 win at Lansdowne Road in March last year marked a low point for the Boys in Green but also showed the progress the tiny nation has made in recent years. They beat Azerbaijan twice in that campaign as well and put in creditable performances against Serbia and Portugal in their best-ever World Cup campaign.

Northern Ireland beat Lithuania and drew nil-all with Italy in their last two games in qualifying, but away defeats to Bulgaria and Switzerland preceded those results and put a dampener on any World Cup hopes.

They’re without Paddy McNair, Conor Bradley and Bailey Peacock-Farrell for this, but Jonny Evans returns, and it’ll be his job to curtail the exciting Gerson Rodrigues and Sebastien Thill, who scored that cracking goal to beat Real Madrid in the Bernabeu fo Sheriff Tiraspol earlier this season.

A mid-season friendly away from home probably isn’t the most appetising prospect for Northern Ireland squad and we could see this playing out as a rather tepid draw.

8:15pm – France v Ivory Coast: Mbappe to Score

Live on Sky Sports Youtube & Red Button

France have already qualified for December’s big showpiece, while the Ivory Coast were hard done by the qualifying draw as they played finished with 13 points from 18 in their group, but Cameroon won every game but one to top the table and eliminate the Elephants.

They were also unfortunate in the AFCON going out in the last-16 to finalists Egypt on penalties. They have exciting forwards in Wilf Zaha, Sebastien Haller and Max Cornet, and some talent in midfield, with Milan’s Franck Kessie a stand-out.

We all know the depth Didier Deschamps has at his disposal and his biggest problem is trying to fit so many good players into one team.

The French have won five on the bounce, a run that includes victories over Belgium and Spain, plus an 8-0 spanking of Kazakhstan. Kylian Mbappe snaffled four in that, which shows he’s willing to turn it on against lesser opposition, and while Ivory Coast are a lot better than the Kazakhs, we’d still expect the world champions to put together a performance on Friday night at St Denis. Mbappe’s been one of the few bright spots for PSG this season in big games and should net here.

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