Why Peru have the up­per hand

Weekend Herald - - Football -

Com­pet­i­tive games

Since the be­gin­ning of this World Cup cy­cle Peru have played 18 qual­i­fy­ing matches in the most com­pet­i­tive con­fed­er­a­tion in world foot­ball. They have also played 10 Copa Amer­ica matches. They are used to ‘death or glory’ foot­ball. New Zealand had some tough matches in Ocea­nia but have of­ten been re­stricted to friendlies.

We’re too nice

It’s hard to imag­ine Peru be­ing in­tim­i­dated tonight. Though it should be a parochial and pas­sion­ate sell­out crowd in Welling­ton, it won’t com­pare to the hos­til­ity gen­er­ated for teams vis­it­ing South Amer­ica.

South Amer­ica fac­tor

The All Whites haven’t beaten a South Amer­i­can team in 14 at­tempts, and haven’t played a game on the con­ti­nent for 10 years.

Sec­ond leg

Peru grabbed an ad­van­tage by host­ing the sec­ond leg. It’s al­most al­ways the ideal po­si­tion in a two-legged play­off, as they can be cau­tious in the away match be­fore throw­ing the kitchen sink at home.

Reid, Wood con­cerns

The All Whites duo, who are the two most valu­able play­ers by some dis­tance, are both com­ing off re­cent in­juries. It’s hoped they are 100 per cent, but there is no cer­tainty and 180 min­utes of foot­ball in the space of six days is a huge ask.

His­tory lessons

Not only has New Zealand never beaten a South Amer­i­can team, but Aus­tralia failed to get past Ar­gentina (1993) and Uruguay (2001) in ear­lier play­offs. Their only suc­cess came in 2005 with the Soc­ceroos’ golden gen­er­a­tion, but they needed a penalty shootout to get past Uruguay.

The Lima fortress

Peru have lost twice in Lima in the past three years. They are un­beaten at home since a 2-0 loss to Brazil a year ago, and in the cur­rent qual­i­fy­ing phase nei­ther Ar­gentina, Colom­bia nor Uruguay could get a win in the Peru­vian cap­i­tal.

Guer­rero fac­tor No 1

Banned Guer­rero is a cult hero in Peru and his late goal against Colom­bia res­cued their World Cup dream. His team­mates will be des­per­ate to give him chance to play in Rus­sia, in what is surely his last World Cup op­por­tu­nity.

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