Football

Kiwi coach: 'National disaster' if Peru lose

WORLD CUP PLAY-OFF, 2ND LEG
PERU NEW ZEALAND

New Zealand coach Anthony Hudson said his "small but strong" side are pressure-free and brimming with confidence ahead of this morning's (Singapore time) World Cup play-off second leg against Peru at the Estadio Nacional de Lima.

New Zealand are underdogs for the encounter in Lima after Saturday's first leg in Wellington ended in a goalless draw.

Hudson, however, said his team are used to playing away and are ready to thwart Peru's attempt to reach the Finals for the first time since 1982.

He said: "We are more comfortable playing away from home and we are more than up for it.

"There is no pressure on us, we have a team full of confidence and a plan.

"We are a small but strong side and more than anything we believe in ourselves. We're very excited about tomorrow."

EARLY GOAL

"I expect Peru to play very fast to try and get an early goal. The longer the score remains at 0-0, the more the pressure on them will increase," Hudson added in comments made mostly in Spanish.

"Everybody knows that Peru are the favourites. But we also know that if Peru lose it will be a national disaster."

New Zealand expect to have Burnley striker Chris Wood back in the starting line-up after injury limited him to a late substitute appearance in Wellington.

"He's good, obviously every day he gets better," Hudson said. "Now we have a Chris Wood who is stronger and more ready."

Like his manager, New Zealand captain Winston Reid stepped up the mind games when asked by a Peruvian journalist about the Kiwis poor record of making it to football's showpiece event, replying: "Well you haven't been to a World Cup for a while, have you?

"Records are meant to be broken, for you and for us."

The most experienced player in Peru's ranks, 78-cap veteran Jefferson Farfan, said that for his team to end their World Cup drought, they will have to "search for any way to get through the defensive fence."

He added: "(New Zealand) are very disciplined tactically and in defence they do not leave any space. You have to be patient to find the space."

His coach Ricardo Gareca shared that sentiment, noting: "I'm sure they're going to stay back. Knowing this, we'll have to be patient and pass the ball around." - WIRE SERVICES

New ZealandWorld CupSouth America