Peru hopes to crack New Zealand de­fense for World Cup berth

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

Peru coach Ri­cardo Gareca is ex­pect­ing New Zealand to think only of de­fend­ing in the sec­ond leg of their play­off on Wed­nes­day as the vis­i­tors try to reach next year’s World Cup in Rus­sia.

With the teams hav­ing played out a 0-0 draw on Satur­day in the first leg in Welling­ton, Peru is the heavy fa­vorite to ad­vance.

Peru is try­ing for its first berth since 1982, and its fifth over­all. New Zealand has only qual­i­fied twice, the last time com­ing in 2010 in South Africa.

“I’m sure they’re go­ing to stay back,” said Gareca, an Ar­gen­tine who has trans­formed Peru’s na­tional team. “Know­ing this, we’ll have to be pa­tient and pass the ball around.”

It hopes to join four other South Amer­i­can teams that have al­ready qual­i­fied for next year’s tour­na­ment: Brazil, Ar­gentina, Colom­bia and Uruguay.

Peru will have to ad­vance with­out its top striker Paolo Guer­rero, who was sus­pended af­ter fail­ing a dop­ing test. He also missed the first leg.

Jef­fer­son Far­fan, who will be called on to score in Guer­rero’s ab­sence, said Peru would have to “search for any way to through the de­fen­sive fence.”

New Zealand coach An­thony Hud­son ac­cepts that Peru is the fa­vorite, but he cau­tioned “we’re not here on va­ca­tion.”

The streets in the Peru­vian cap­i­tal are all decked out in the red and white of the team’s col­ors. The Peru­vian foot­ball fed­er­a­tion has also an­nounced it will al­low a Peru­vian flag to be dis­played be­fore 50,000 peo­ple in the Na­tional Sta­dium in down­town Lima.

It’s re­ported to be 100 me­ters long and took fans weeks to stitch to­gether. get

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