Hopefully the public enjoyed the thrills and spills of New Zealand's ultimately unsuccessful tilt at a FIFA World Cup berth this time around because soon all that drama will be removed.

FIFA decided to increase the number of teams at the 2026 showcase from 32 to 48, effectively killing off the drama of the qualification process.

It will be virtually impossible for the likes of the Netherlands and Italy, who won't be at the 2018 World Cup, to miss the competition.

While it gives teams a more consistent opportunity to play on the world stage, the decision robs us of the drama and spectacle like we've just seen between New Zealand and Peru.


After drawing the first leg in Wellington, Peru proved too much for the All Whites on their home turf in the 2-0 win.

The untimely injury of New Zealand's best goal-scoring threat in Chris Wood hampered their chances as they couldn't score a vital goal in either leg.

New Zealand were never fancied in the leg. Peru are ranked tenth in the world while the All Whites hover in the triple digits.

But we could dream - and dream we did.

In a time where the All Blacks are on their northern tour and the Kiwis are battling away in the Rugby League World Cup, the New Zealand public got right in behind football and created one of the best sporting atmospheres the country has seen in Wellington.

Around 38,000 crammed into Westpac Stadium for the first leg and while the result wasn't ideal, it can still be deemed a rousing success.

Would that many go to an All Whites qualification game when Oceania has an automatic qualification spot and they take on the Solomon Islands for the berth? Highly unlikely.

There won't be any distraction tactics when we travel away like we saw in Peru.

From dodgy plane delays to bus trips taking twice as long as scheduled and fireworks lighting up the sky at 3am, the passion shown by Peruvian fans was something to admire and behold.

Sure they were questionable and New Zealanders would never resort to those things (possibly because they aren't as fanatical about sports in general) but it added to the dramatic storyline.

This won't be seen come the 2025 qualifying legs.

Looking at the contest, it was always going to be a step too far for the All Whites to clinch the spot.

They failed to put a single shot on target over both legs. Their inability to put the ball in the back of the opposition net continued under coach Anthony Hudson's leadership.

You can only hold out that calibre of opposition for a certain amount of time and it showed during the second leg where the more clinical Peruvians capitalised on their chances.

It was unlikely, almost impossible, for New Zealand to win. But there was a sense of belief and unison within the supporter base.

We may not see that level of passion after 2022.