All Whites did well to hold Peru to a goalless draw at Wellington Regional Stadium but now face a daunting challenge of keeping their World Cup bid alive over at feisty South Americans’ Estadio Nacional.
Tough Task Ahead of New Zealand
All Whites are one step away from reaching the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia but taking that step would require a gigantic leap against precarious Peru. New Zealand were fortunate not to lose the first leg as goalkeeper Stefan Marinkovic produced wonderous saves including a goal-line clearance to keep his team alive.
Marinovic also worked hard to deny Aldo Corzo’s header in the second half, whereas it was the New Zealand captain Winston Reid who offered his selfless assistance to produce a number of vital blocks in aid to his goalkeeper. The All Whites then had a chance to steal the victory from Peru’s hands when midfielder Ryan Thomas flashed a shot just wide of the post but the result remained unchanged. New Zealand now head into what’s likely to be an even more dangerous encounter, aware that grabbing their third-ever World Cup is not going to be an easy task.
All Whites striker Chris Wood was carrying a hamstring injury but should be fully fit and at disposal for a place in the starting line-up.
Tommy Smith picked up a knock in the first leg but the defender should be available for the return leg.
Peru Out to End 35-Year Drought
It’s been 36 years since Peru last took part of a World Cup and this South American nation will give their all not to ruin this great chance. Ricardo Gareca’s side was the better of two in the first play-off leg in New Zealand and will be looking to put an extra pressure on All Whites in Lina on Thursday morning.
With no less than 112 places between the two nations in the latest FIFA rankings, the tenth team in the world are identified as clear favourites to grab the Russian visa. Peru are a force to be reckoned with at home ground and they will be hoping to put in another strong performance in front of fanatical home supporters which hope to celebrate reaching the World Cup for the first time since 1982. Peru lost just two on nine home qualifiers, one of which was to Brazil. They did manage to beat the likes of Argentina and Colombia which means this team is more than capable of seeing off a team such as New Zealand.
Captain Paolo Guerrero is still suspended following a failed drug test whereas hosts are not expected to have any other selection issues.
Peru are seen as firm favourites to land a win in this forthcoming fixture and book their ticket for Russia. We expect a strong performance straight from the off and tend to back Peru for a comfortable win.
Top pick: Peru to win to Nil 1.66 (4/6) @Bet365
Alternative pick 1: Half Time/Full Time Home Win 1.75 (3/4) @Ladbrokes
Alternative Pick 2: Both teams to score – No 1.40 (2/5) @Sportingbet