World Cup Playoff Second Leg Preview
Date: Thursday, 15th November 2017
Location: Estadio NacionalLima
Kick off: 3:15 (CET)
New Zealand surprised everyone on Saturday by managing to scrape a 0-0 Draw at home against Peru in the Final Playoff match for the World Cup 2018.
In this second leg, over 10,000 miles away from home, they will be a further disadvantage, with Peru in the possession of the home advantage and a crowd of expectant fans hoping to get their hands who haven’t had a taste of World Cup action for over 35 years. As such, Peru will remain favorites in this second leg too.
However, despite having the lion share of possession away in Wellington, they didn’t manage to capitalize, with only two clean cut chances the whole game and this failure to get a crucial away goal may cost them.
This will also no doubt have psyched New Zealand up for this leg, who not only kept the Peruvians at bay, but also managed to do it without star striker Chris Wood, who remained on the bench until the final 15 minutes.
Speaking in an interview, All White Coach Anthony Hudson was quoted as saying, “It’s the first time in a long time we’ve brought a sub of that calibre off the bench…Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever done that in my life.”
The refreshing modesty of Hudson aside, it is indeed an impressive feat to not start your best player against a team over 111 ranks above you, and so with Chris Wood expected to start in this leg, there will be a lot of momentum behind this New Zealand side. He made an impact already in the first leg, securing the All Whites only real chance in the game with his first touch, which won’t have gone unnoticed by Peru.
As the whole New Zealand team now know, despite the heaped pressure against them due to having to play far from home, they are effectively a goal away from qualifying. If they can get one nice and early, then the pressure on Peru will be enormous and they could get a result.
As well as this, Winston Reid and Tommy Smith are also back in the fold, so things seem to be looking up in the New Zealand camp, and maybe, just maybe, the biggest upset of the playoffs is still on the cards.
Despite travel chaos, which has been condemned by New Zealand press as “Dirty Tricks” by a desperate Peru, which saw them arrive nearly 30 hours later than their opponents, New Zealand will feel good going into this game.
Meanwhile, in the Peru camp, Paolo Guerrero remains banned from the return leg meaning they are still are lacking at the front, a flaw only too obvious in the first leg. However, other than that they have picked up no injuries or suspensions in Wellington, meaning that they still have a fit and healthy team and so, in theory, Peru are still fully equipped for victory.
They still have the best squad at their disposal and there should be no New Zealand fan, nor player, that has packed a bag for Russia just yet.
Peru should have done better away from home and got that away goal, however, the calibre is there and if they don’t qualify serious questions need to be asked of the whole team.
They controlled the game in Wellington but couldn’t carve that chance against a well organised New Zealand defence, but something has to give, especially if New Zealand push for the away goal and leave gaps at the back.
It will be tough again for New Zealand and Peru should go through on this one, by hook or by crook, even without their talisman, but the first goal is all important here.