New Zealand kept their World Cup hopes alive after they held Peru to a 0-0 draw in the first leg of the intercontinental play-off on Saturday. The teams will now face each other in the reverse fixture in Lima next week where Peru will hope to reach their first World Cup in over 36 years.
The South American nation were heavily tipped to beat the All Whites being the 10th ranked team in the world. However, they struggled to find the creativity in the forward department with star striker and captain Paolo Guerrera suspended for the game after failing a doping test.
New Zealand, ranked a lowly 122nd in the world, also faced a similar setback prior to kickoff after leading striker Chris Wood was forced out of the starting XI because of a disturbing hamstring problem. They nevertheless grew in confidence as the game progressed and brought on the Burnley forward in the final stages to try and grab a late goal.
Speaking after the match, Peru manager Ricardo Gareca said that his side were the better side on the day, and he has assured the fans of a strong performance at home to end their World Cup drought, he said: “We have many fans and everyone is behind the team and I want to tell them that we have a good chance to qualify but it won’t be easy. Don’t worry about this result because the team will still give 100 percent in its attempt to qualify.”
Meanwhile, Newcastle head coach Anthony Hudson was pleased to have not conceded a goal in front of their home fans, and he is hoping for a similar performance with a view to nicking the win, he said: “The key for us, and we said this at the beginning, it’s not a 90 minute match, it’s 180 minutes. We have to still be in the game in the last 15 minutes over in Lima. This suits us. We’re accustomed to that sort of adversity.”