New Zealand will head to Lima with their FIFA World Cup qualification hopes very much in tact after a goalless draw against Peru in the first leg of the Intercontinental Play-off in Wellington on Saturday afternoon.
The teams will now head to Lima for the return leg on Wednesday (local time) with the Oceania champions hoping for a draw or better to claim what will be the final ticket to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Playing in front of a 37,034 strong crowd, a new record for a football match in New Zealand, the All Whites lined up without talismanic striker Chris Wood, who was kept in reserve on the bench due to a recent hamstring injury sustained while playing for Burnley.
Admitting he would’ve taken the result if offered it before the match, New Zealand coach Anthony Hudson said his side’s feet were firmly on the ground at the halfway point of the tie, reports Oceania Football Confederation.
“We are pleased with the performance,” said Anthony Hudson, “and personally, and I know all the players and I think everyone here should be proud of the players – it’s an incredibly good result for us.
“However, But we are not in a position to settle for that. We’ve not achieved anything. The mindset is we’ve not achieved anything. We want to go to Russia.”
Speaking through assiatnt coach Noberto Solano as his translator, Peru coach Ricardo Gareca said he was also satisfied with the result.
“We played very well but part of the game was very tough,” Gareca said.
“We played a good side today who were well organised. They sat back and waited for us because we had control of the match but in general, I’m very happy with the performance. It’s not a bad result and it’s not simple to come to New Zealand and get a draw.”
The return leg in Lima kicks off at 9.15pm (local time) on Wednesday (Thursday 3.15 NZST) at Estadio nacional de Lima, Peru.