All Whites midfielder Michael McGlinchey feels Peru represent the best possible outcome for New Zealand in terms of their World Cup hopes.
After a frantic final day of matches on Wednesday (NZT), the Andean nation emerged as the fifth-placed side in South America, sealing a playoff date with the All Whites in November for a berth at the 2018 World Cup.
McGlinchey, while respectful of Peru's obvious qualities, feels New Zealand have dodged a bullet by avoiding some of the higher profile South American sides.
"Of course Peru are going to be good," said McGlinchey. "They are ranked 12th in the world, but that is the best outcome we could have got, compared to the other teams.
"It just shows you the quality of South American opposition but I think definitely the best chance we've got is against them."
Like many football folk in New Zealand, McGlinchey was an interested spectator on Wednesday, heading down to the Four Kings pub in Wellington to follow every kick.
"They had every match on live," said McGlinchey, who was joined by Wellington Phoenix skipper and All Whites teammate Andrew Durante. "We were watching the tables on our phones, seeing who we were playing. Every 10 minutes, it was jumping around. In the last 10 minutes, when it became Peru, we thought 'we'll take that'. Out of all the teams that there is, we're happy with what we have got'."
McGlinchey emphasises he is not underestimating Peru but feels they lack star power compared with other teams.
"We were watching Chile, and although Brazil were beating them, they just looked a quality side with Alexis [Sanchez] and players like that," said McGlinchey. "Then Argentina have got [Lionel] Messi and [Angel] Di Maria, and Colombia have [Radamel] Falcao. Peru are the ones that haven't got such big names. At the start of the day, that is probably the team we would have taken."
Like most of the All Whites, McGlinchey doesn't have much experience against South American opposition, with only one clash against Paraguay in 2010 and nothing else this decade. It brings a sense of the unknown, adding to the anticipation around the clash.
"It will be intimidating, as they are a very good team," said McGlinchey. "But it won't be as intimidating. We will definitely go into this match feeling positive. I think Japan is a better outfit, even though they are lower ranked. We will go into this game with a lot of confidence, and we will believe we can definitely do this."
Before that, McGlinchey has to focus on his club season for the Phoenix, starting with another against-the-odds clash away to Sydney FC on Sunday night (9pm NZT). The Sky Blues lost just one match last season, clinching the A-League title with a grand final win over Melbourne Victory, and were impressive in a round one win over the same opponents last week.
"They have evolved into a very good side," said McGlinchey. "You know how they are going to play but it doesn't make it any easier to stop them. It will be a good test for us."
IN A development unlikely to gain traction, Chile, who missed qualification, are considering an appeal against their elimination on the grounds of match fixing.
As Colombia and Peru became aware their 1-1 stalemate would result in both qualifying -- Colombia directly -- at Chile's expense players passed the ball around uncontested, as they waited for the final whistle.
Players from both sides acknowledged in post-match interviews that they knew what was happening in other matches and tried to manage the game as they needed to.