A WORLD OF PRESSURE
All Whites brace for showdown in Lima
Hudson and Reid, it even sounds like a 1980s detective duo. In this case, it was All Whites coach Anthony Hudson and captain Winston Reid, who put on their best good cop, bad cop routine in Lima yesterday at the pre-match press conference for the second leg of their World Cup playoff against Peru.
Hudson was the smiling, obliging good cop, answering a multitude of questions from local journalists in his self-taught Spanish, while Reid turned bad cop when a Peru journalist suggested the All Whites didn’t have a good record away from home.
‘‘Well, you haven’t been to a World Cup for 30 years, have you?,’’ Reid fired back, calling out world No 10 Peru’s World Cup drought that stretches back to 1982.
Whether that was a bit of mind games or a simple statement of fact, the message was clear: all the pressure will be on Peru at the Estadio Nacional today.
‘‘You haven’t been to a World Cup for 30 years, have you?’’ Winston Reid, left, with Anthony Hudson, fires back at Peruvian media
They are the ones with a weight of a nation on their shoulders. That pressure has only increased since Peru’s lacklustre showing in the 0-0 draw in the first leg in Wellington on Saturday.
It means a scoring draw would send the All Whites through on away goals, while a scoreless draw sends the game to extra time and possibly penalties. Peru have to win to qualify.
To combat that pressure, Hudson said he expected Peru to start fast to try to score an early goal.
‘‘The longer the game goes the way it is [0-0], the pressure will increase on the home team. Because of that Peru will start fast.’’
That was in stark contrast to what their opposition were expecting of them. Peru coach Ricardo Gareca said New Zealand would continue with their defensive mindset.
‘‘I’m sure they’re going to stay back. Knowing this, we’ll have to be patient and pass the ball around.’’
There has been talk about what Peru might change with their attack to break down New Zealand’s defence. Some have suggested Jefferson Farfan might be replaced up front by Raul Ruidiaz.
If Reid’s response to a question about Farfan was anything to go by, then Peru should certainly think long and hard about playing him up front again.
‘‘I don’t want to sound arrogant, but I think I, and my team-mates, are used to playing against good strikers, so it’s not a shock for us.’’
All Whites defender Tommy Smith will need a fitness test today to determine if he could play after he sat out yesterday’s final training session with a calf injury. He looks likely to be replaced in the starting lineup by Andrew Durante.
The prognosis was slightly better for striker Chris Wood and his tight hamstring. He is in line to start the second leg, although Hudson said he wasn’t their only attacking weapon.
‘‘Chris Wood is very important to us, but we have many players on the pitch who are important and also dangerous, so we’re not putting all our faith in Chris Wood.
‘‘We have lots of other players we know can score and have scored away from home against big teams and caused problems against big teams, so we go into the game confident.’’
The streets in the Peruvian capital are all decked out in the red and white of the team’s colours.
The Peruvian Football Federation has also announced it will allow a Peruvian flag to be displayed before 50,000 people at Estadio Nacional de Lima during the game. The flag is reported to be 100 metres long and took fans weeks to stitch together.