The prospect of New Zealand hosting a South American powerhouse in their final step to the World Cup finals has produced a curious reaction.

You might assume the prevailing view would unanimously be to have the All Whites get as good an opportunity as possible - and no matter how slim the chance - to advance to the finals in Russia next year by overcoming the fifth-placed finisher from the Conmebol group.

Right now, that team looms as Argentina, two-time world champions, and yet there is a bizarre viewpoint that "wouldn't it be great to have Lionel Messi [below] strutting around the Westpac Stadium". This reeks of some kind of teenage star-struck loopiness.

World No 3 Argentina have had an oopsy-daisy qualifying series. They oddly drew at home to bottom-placed Venezuela a few days ago. With two rounds remaining, Argentina are in a spot.


They have a home game against Peru on October 5, before travelling to face Ecuador, who are out of the running, but play at altitude.

Argentina have been sorely out of sorts, but they're still Argentina, still led by the phenomenal Messi. So, if you cherish the notion of the All Whites making it to a third Cup finals, why on earth would you want to take on Argentina?

Those putting this idea about seem to be of the view than Chris Wood and co have no hope, therefore why not have a chance to look at the little Barcelona magician Messi live.

Sure the All Whites' prospects of clearing the final hurdle are small. Remember the duffing Mexico gave them four years ago.

But here's the thing about football: no matter the gulf in class between teams - unless of ridiculous proportions - you tend to get a chance to score within the 90 minutes. That's the way the game runs.

It might only be one chance and you have to take it. But weird things can happen.

Remember Pak Doo Ik? Didn't think so, unless you are over a certain age and Italian. He was the North Korean player who scored the only goal of a cup match against Italy at Middlesbrough in 1966.

No one conceived of such a result. Italy, eliminated, got the rotten tomatoes treatment when they arrived home.

So if not Argentina, then who? The most likely options are Peru, fourth at present and a tidy outfit ranked 15th in the world, or Chile, world No7 but, like the Argentines, off their game.

At a pinch, Paraguay, seventh now, might burgle the spot. Ranked 40th, they'd be the ideal opponents, given the choices.

New Zealand will host the South Americans in Wellington most likely on November 10 or 11; the second leg is a few days later. No matter who New Zealand get, it'll be tough, but that's no reason to toss in the towel, sit back and start to drool at some Messi magic.