Michael Burgess runs the rule over the New Zealand-Peru World Cup playoff series.

Why Peru have the upper hand

Competitive games

Since the beginning of this World Cup cycle Peru have played 18 qualifying matches in the most competitive confederation in world football. They have also played 10 Copa America matches. They are used to 'death or glory' football. New Zealand had some tough matches in Oceania but have often been restricted to friendlies.

We're too nice
It's hard to imagine Peru being intimidated tonight. Though it should be a parochial and passionate sellout crowd in Wellington, it won't compare to the hostility generated for teams visiting South America.


South America factor
The All Whites haven't beaten a South American team in 14 attempts, and haven't played a game on the continent for 10 years.

Second leg
Peru grabbed an advantage by hosting the second leg. It's almost always the ideal position in a two-legged playoff, as they can be cautious in the away match before throwing the kitchen sink at home.

Reid, Wood concerns
The All Whites duo, who are the two most valuable players by some distance, are both coming off recent injuries. It's hoped they are 100 per cent, but there is no certainty and 180 minutes of football in the space of six days is a huge ask.

History lessons
Not only has New Zealand never beaten a South American team, but Australia failed to get past Argentina (1993) and Uruguay (2001) in earlier playoffs. Their only success came in 2005 with the Socceroos' golden generation, but they needed a penalty shootout to get past Uruguay.

The Lima fortress
Peru have lost twice in Lima in the past three years. They are unbeaten at home since a 2-0 loss to Brazil a year ago, and in the current qualifying phase neither Argentina, Colombia nor Uruguay could get a win in the Peruvian capital.

Guerrero factor No 1
Banned Guerrero is a cult hero in Peru and his late goal against Colombia rescued their World Cup dream. His teammates will be desperate to give him chance to play in Russia, in what is surely his last World Cup opportunity.

Read more:
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Winston Reid: All Whites can handle the pressure against Peru
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Reasons to believe in a NZ miracle


Wellington weather is unpredictable, and if the wind blows it can be hellish for visiting teams. Especially at Westpac Stadium, where the design and proximity to the harbour can createawicked, swirling effect. Peru's finesse could be compromised in a gale.

Peru have been dogged by ill-fortune and bad luck over the past few decades, and have constantly fallen short and been beset by scandals. Getting past the 122nd-ranked team in the world for a place in the World Cup should be relatively straight forward, but Peru fans won't believe it until it happens.

Chris Wood
Some of the best defences in the English Premier League haven't been able to stop Wood. He can hurt opposition teams in many ways, as he has a powerful shot off either foot, is strong in the air and has a poacher's instinct in the box.

Best All Whites since...
Arguably the best All Whites XI since the 2010 World Cup. Reid, Tommy Smith and Michael Boxall compare favourably with any central defensive trio since that tournament, while Ryan Thomas is already one of the most polished midfielders in a generation. Chris Wood is in career best form.

Peru pressure
Although there are playing it down, the pressure on Peru will be unbearable. The nation has waited 35 years to return to a World Cup, which has been a source of great angst and despair in the Andean country. It's not even close to New Zealand's 24-year drought between Rugby World Cup trophies.

Long haul travel
Peru have never had to travel this far for a game of football. While circling the globe is standard practice for the All Whites, Peru's matches are usually confined to South America.

Winston Reid
The presence of Reid adds immensely to the All Whites's belief, and their defensive strength. Due to various factors he's played only five international games in the last three years. He is motivated to on a big stage in front on New Zealand fans.

Guerrero factor No 2
Paolo Guerrero's suspension caused shockwaves in Peru. He is the heart and soul of the team and a truly world class player. He is their all time leading scorer and captain. Peru have other capable strikers, but no one like El Deperedor (The Predator).

World Cup intercontinental playoff

New Zealand v Peru

Home leg at Westpac Stadium, Wellington.

Saturday, November 11, kick-off at 4.15pm.


14c, cloudy and possible showers and partly cloudy

TAB head-to-head odds:

All Whites $4.75, Peru $1.70, draw $3.50

Radio Sport will have live commentary while nzherald.co.nz will live blog the game from 3pm.