All Whites v Peru: All the big questions answered
OPINION: The All Whites are just 90 minutes away from the World Cup, but so are Peru.
The Kiwis impressed in Wellington on Saturday, drawing 0-0 and keeping the playoff alive when many thought they wouldn’t. Ahead of the second leg, Stuff’s football writers share their thoughts.
What impressed you the most in the first leg?
Liam Hyslop: Michael Boxall. Having rewatched the game, he’s emerged as a real unsung hero in my mind. Made some crucial interceptions and tackles. Some have criticised him for being overly physical, but proved just as assured as Tommy Smith in the back three.
Phillip Rollo: I was most impressed by Winston Reid’s Ryan Nelsen-esque performance at the back. The captain stood up when the All Whites needed him the most, anchoring a defensive line that kept Peru scoreless for 90 minutes.
Tony Smith: Winston Reid was immense, Ryan Thomas showed flashes of skill and Michael McGlinchey covered huge tracts of ground, but the All Whites are still in this tie thanks to keeper Stefan Marinovic discovering his inner Mark Paston, scrambling back to stop the ball squirming over the line and tipping a shot brilliantly over the bar in the second half.
Ben Strang: Anthony Hudson. Using his midfielders, Thomas and Lewis, to help cover the wing backs and stifle Peru’s attack was a masterstroke. The pressing shoved Peru to the flanks, where they found a dead end. The players never strayed from the plan, hence the result.
Andrew Voerman: The All Whites midfielders, for putting in the effort required on defence in Anthony Hudson’s system. They were tireless in getting back to provide support, yet still did their jobs on attack as well.
Where do the All Whites need to improve?
LH: Finishing their limited chances, but that should come naturally with an English Premier League striker back on deck.
PR: Defensively, the All Whites were solid on Saturday but they provided little goalscoring threat outside of Ryan Thomas’s late
effort. All five of their shots were off target, including one strike from Kosta Barbarouses that went out for a throw. Starting Chris Wood should solve this, however.
BS: It’s a confidence thing. We saw Kosta Barbarouses, Marco Rojas and Ryan Thomas beat their
men with ease at times. They’re good enough. Now they need to have confidence to keep the ball on the ground and pass it.
TS: Stop giving away the ball so easily once they’ve won it and create and take more chances. Get an early goal - probably from a setpiece
- then defend like their lives depend on it.
AV: Maybe a little more headsup play on attack. There were a few frustrating dribbles to nowhere on Saturday. Otherwise, they were pretty much at their peak - turning their chances into shots, and their shots into shots on target is mostly down to luck (and the likely addition of Chris Wood from the start).
What should our expectations be?
LH: Qualifying for the World Cup. Take away the respective reputations and rankings of the two teams on Saturday and examine them as the white team and the red team. Who was better? It’s hard to know. For that reason, I think the white team, who will wear black today, will have the edge by adding a player of Wood’s quality.
PR: Our expectation should be that the All Whites qualify for a third World Cup. They proved, in the first leg, that they can foot it with Peru. A 1-1 draw will be enough, and I think that should be a realistic aim.
TS: Someone once said that our level of serenity is inversely proportional to our level of expectation. All the pressure’s on Peru, but Wood’s likely inclusion from the outset could be a gamechanger. Can the All Whites hold out for another 90 minutes? They did it back-to-back against Bahrain eight years ago, but Peru are a class above the Asians.
BS: Hudson says they’ll score an away goal, so that’s what we should expect. A strong defensive performance, and a goal. New Zealand could still lose, but the expectation should be for New Zealand to be within a goal.
AV: Nothing. The result on Saturday doesn’t change the fact that this will be an all-time upset if the All Whites win, and no big deal if they lose. As long as they aren’t totally embarrassed.
Prediction for tomorrow?
LH: New Zealand win 1-0. PR: Peru win 2-1.
TS: The rugby public hate football draws, but a 1-1 result here would be the All Whites’ best result since the Italian job at the 2010 World Cup finals. Away goal rules.
BS: I expect New Zealand to score, but I imagine it to be an equaliser, with Peru scoring a second to win it. An honourable 2-1 defeat.
AV: I reckon the All Whites score one, and I reckon Peru score one. But can Peru score another? My gut says yes. Peru win 2-1.