Rea­sons to be­lieve in an All Whites win

Rea­sons to be­lieve in an All Whites win

Weekend Herald - - Bring On The Weekend - Michael Burgess in Welling­ton

An­thony Hud­son is set to spring a cou­ple of sur­prises in his team to face Peru to­day by tak­ing a punt on youth.

This af­ter­noon’s clash is the big­gest All Whites match in four years — and the big­gest on home soil since the epic en­counter with Bahrain in 2009, given the clash with Mex­ico in Welling­ton in 2013 was essen­tially a dead rub­ber.

It will be a day for calm heads and cool nerves as play­ers try to ig­nore what is at stake and get on with the job.

De­spite that, Hud­son is set to hand a start­ing po­si­tion to 20-year-old Clay­ton Lewis in mid­field. Lewis missed the re­cent friendly with Ja­pan as he had just joined Scun­thorpe United in League One, and in Septem­ber was a con­tro­ver­sial omis­sion from the squad to face the Solomon Is­lands due to fit­ness and con­di­tion­ing is­sues.

But he was one of the stand­out per­form­ers at the 2017 Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup, es­pe­cially in the 2-1 loss to Mex­ico, where he cre­ated Chris Wood’s goal and set up an­other great chance for the Burn­ley striker.

That kind of per­for­mance on the big stage, and his abil­ity to hold pos­ses­sion in tight ar­eas, should see him pre­ferred to Kosta Bar­barouses in mid­field.

Bar­barouses had a poor last sea­son with the Welling­ton Phoenix and is still re­cov­er­ing his con­fi­dence back at the Mel­bourne Vic­tory.

Lewis is likely to start along­side Michael McGlinchey and Ryan Thomas, with Marco Ro­jas pair­ing with Chris Wood up front.

The other key de­ci­sion was around the wing backs. It’s be­lieved that Deklan Wynne will start at left back, while Kip Colvey is set to be the sur­prise in­clu­sion on the right. He has had a mixed ca­reer on the big stage, but is one of the fittest and fastest play­ers in the All Whites squad. Colvey, who has won 13 caps, had his best per­for­mance against the United States last year, and also fea­tured in four games at the 2016 Na­tions Cup in Pa­pua New Guinea.

But the 23-year-old strug­gled against Rus­sia in the Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup and didn’t fig­ure promi­nently in the re­cent qual­i­fiers against the Solomons Is­lands.

Colvey has been pre­ferred ahead of Dane Ing­ham, who has po­ten­tial but is still quite raw, while Storm Roux is be­lieved to be not fully fit.

Win­ston Reid, Michael Box­all and

Tommy Smith will round out the back three, with Reid’s ex­pe­ri­ence vi­tal for some of the rel­a­tively raw play­ers around him.

“I think it’s just about giv­ing guid­ance to the younger play­ers in the group and help­ing them through sit­u­a­tions. There’s go­ing to be tricky mo­ments out there,” said Reid.

“I’d be more ner­vous if we didn’t pre­pare right. We’ve done all our home­work.

“That gives me good con­fi­dence in the group. It’s a game and we have to go out and ex­e­cute the game­plan and go out and play to our strengths.”

Since ar­riv­ing in New Zealand for their World Cup play­off, Peru’s play­ers have re­sponded cau­tiously to the same ques­tion. Not about who might play, but who will not.

Paolo Guer­rero, Peru’s cap­tain and lead­ing scorer, is miss­ing while pro­vi­sion­ally sus­pended for fail­ing a dop­ing test fol­low­ing the World Cup qual­i­fier against Ar­gentina.

The ab­sence of the striker is the big­gest set­back Peru face as they try to qual­ify for the World Cup for the first time in 35 years.

There are also the for­mi­da­ble ob­sta­cles of travel, time zones and cli­mate which make the match against the All Whites more dif­fi­cult than it might look on pa­per for 10th-ranked Peru.

Peru’s play­ers have tried sleep de­pri­va­tion tech­niques to ac­cli­ma­tise to a new time zone and have padded them­selves lav­ishly against strong winds and cool tem­per­a­tures.

But Guer­rero’s ab­sence has been the re­cur­ring theme. He scored six times in South Amer­i­can qual­i­fiers and led his team to fifth place.

Peru’s foot­ball as­so­ci­a­tion will chal­lenge his sus­pen­sion with the Court of Ar­bi­tra­tion for Sport in Switzer­land and, if suc­cess­ful, will have him for the re­turn leg in Lima on Novem­ber 16.

For now, the South Amer­i­cans have done their best to treat per­sis­tent ques­tions about their cap­tain with re­spect but in­dif­fer­ence.

Ad­di­tional re­port­ing AP

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