Kiwis in battle with Peru for Russia berth
NEW Zealand believe they can spring a massive upset and down Peru to reach the 2018 World Cup finals, even if no one else shares their faith, coach Anthony Hudson said yesterday.
The New Zealanders host “Los Incas” in Wellington today for the opening leg of a two-match qualification tie with a berth at the finals in Russia next year up for grabs.
Peru are ranked 10th in the world, while Hudson’s side are 122nd and hail from a nation best known globally for the All Blacks rugby union team.
Hudson said his side had been written off, but it was Peru that was desperate to end a 36-year absence from football’s showpiece tournament.
The Englishman said the New Zealanders had the skills to match Peru, but could not afford to be overawed by the occasion.
Peru coach Ricardo Gareca acknowledged his team were considered favourites, but insisted they would not be taking New Zealand lightly.
“In reality, both teams start from zero and the match is so important for both teams that you just never know,” the Argentine said via an interpreter.
He was confident the South Americans would cope without captain and goal-scoring talisman Paolo Guerrero (pictured) , who is serving a suspension over an “abnormal result” from a drugs test.
The Wellington match will take place in front of 38 500 fans at a sold-out Westpac Stadium. – AFP