Soccer Picks: Nigeria vs. Ethiopia World Cup Playoffs

Nila Amerova

Thursday, November 14, 2013 12:03 AM UTC

Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013 12:03 AM UTC

Nigeria and Ethiopia are set to decide the outcome of their World Cup qualifying bids when they collide in the second leg of their African playoffs tie. Join us as we preview the odds and deliver our value soccer free picks.

Nigeria favoured across sportsbooks

Odds makers corner this tilt in Nigeria’s camp wholeheartedly, listing the Super Eagles as the hot -350 favourites to win the second leg that will be played on home turf. Having won the first leg 2:1 in Ethiopia last month gives the Super Eagles the advantage. But as savvy soccer bettors know, a goal cushion isn’t much to rest hope on.

Ethiopia, tipped as the outrageous +1200 underdogs, are still very much in the race for a spot in Brazil and, as such, Nigeria will face a tough task at home, tougher than the sportsbooks would have you believe.

Nigeria have qualified for four of the last five World Cups: the exception in 2006 when they we’re beaten to the punch by Angola. But their last outing in South Africa 2010 left a lot to be desired, not to mention qualifying wasn’t without its fair share of drama either as Nigeria only just squeaked into the global showpiece following a narrow 3-2 victory over Kenya.

Clearly expectations run high for the Super Eagles, who won a third CAF Africa Cup earlier this year, to soar into Brazil this weekend and thanks to Emmanuel Emenike’s brace against Ethiopia, they are one foot in the door. But if the first leg was any indication, Nigeria can’t take anything for granted.

It was a cagey first half and start to the second half and Ethiopia seemed to have the better chances, which they finally converted into a goal in the 56th minute to take the lead. Trailing and against the ropes in Addis Ababa, Emenike answered just 10 minutes later with a much-needed equaliser that salvaged their hopes and just as it looked to end all square, Aynalem Hailu committed a foul that awarded Nigeria a penalty kick which Emenike happily took and calmly sent past Tassew who guessed wrong and fell the wrong way.

Nigeria will be glad to have won the first leg but Ethiopia had plenty of positives to take away from that match and a month to prepare tactics for the return leg. So one has to believe they will fancy their chances even if sportsbooks aren’t giving them much hope with large odds of +1200 at Bet365.

Nigeria will be mindful of a tricky Ethiopia side even if the Walya Antelopes have been a far cry from their best form in recent years on the world stage. After all, everything rests on the outcome of one match and if Ethiopia masterminds the upset win the tables will turn quicker than you can say Jack Robinson.

Ethiopia finished top of Group in Africa qualifying, two points ahead of South Africa with a 4-1-1 record. The only blemish on that mark was the fact that they scored eight goals while conceding six. Nigeria advanced into the playoffs following an undefeated 3-3-0 run to clinch Group F, scoring seven goals and allowing just three.

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Nigeria vs. Ethiopia betting tips and picks:

If sportsbooks odds were to be taken at face value Nigeria would be the soccer pick to make to win this World Cup playoffs tie. Certainly, they are giving it to them with heft -350 odds to win outright at Bet365 on the back of a win in the first leg and on the strength of two away goals.

It’s definitely an uphill battle for Ethiopia, as highlighted by their +1200 soccer odds, but Ethiopia did outplay Nigeria in the first leg and that alone should send them into this reverse with measured optimism. Indeed, they can manage the upset here and what an upset it would be! What a payout it would be as well if you were to take Ethiopia as your soccer pick! Heady thought if ever there was one.

It’s not really impossible either. The least Ethiopia would need is to score two goals. A 2-0 win, which is trading at +5000, would send Ethiopia to Brazil while 2-1 win, which is trading for +3300, would send the game into overtime as both sides would be tied 3-3 on aggregate and 2-2 on away goals, and then all bets would be off. It’s also conceivable that Ethiopia wins but doesn’t advance to Brazil, such as a 1-0 win (going for +2000 at Bet365) in Nigeria would tie the game 2-2 on aggregate but Nigeria would advance by virtue of away goals.

Odds makers though are heavily favouring Nigeria not only on the win but also in score markets with a 2-0 win trading the best at +400 – a huge drop off from score odds for Ethiopia. A 1-0 win is going for +450 while a 3-0 win is going for +600. Even the draw, which overall is listed at +400, offers lower odds than an Ethiopia winning score. A scoreless draw and a 1-1 draw are trading at +900.

Soccer Free Picks: There is everything to play for her and as such there are no guarantees or right picks. Anything can happen but if we were to make a decisive soccer pick we’d go with the bookies on this one and take Nigeria. On paper, they are stronger top to bottom. They also have an advantage on defence over the Antelopes, which could prove to be defining towards the outcome.

Soccer Free Picks: Nigeria to win outright at -350; Under 2.5 -118 and 2-0 for Nigeria at +400

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