All Whites relaxed and confident in Lima

New Zealand team photo. New Zealand All Whites v Peru. FIFA World Cup Intercontinental play-off match at Westpac Stadium, Wellington, New Zealand. Saturday 11 November 2017. © Copyright photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz

All Whites coach Anthony Hudson says the team spirt within his side is the best it has ever been as they look to create football history for New Zealand.

The All Whites, who have overcome a delayed arrival and have been swamped by local media and fans everywhere they have travelled in Lima, have completed their official training at Estadio Nacional de Lima as they look to upset World No 10 Peru for a place in the FIFA World Cup.

The tie hangs in the balance after a gripping 0-0 draw in the home leg at a near-capacity Westpac Stadium in Wellington on Saturday. The team feels like they are in a great position to achieve one of the biggest results in New Zealand Football history.

“I have to say the mood in the team is unbelievable,” said Hudson to a packed press conference. “Everyone is relaxed. We’re in a really good place, everyone is focused and we’re looking forward to the game. Nothing can get in our way on this tour. The team spirit is the strongest it’s been in the three and a half years I’ve been in the job.”

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Skipper Winston Reid, who delivered a captain’s performance in the heart of the New Zealand defence, said the All Whites will not be deterred by the pressure or the hostility they expect to face on match day.

“We’re used to playing in big environments. We play big games outside of our country against big opponents so we’re well travelled. If you look at our recent history we play all of our big games away from home. We’re used to pressure, we’re used to playing a playoff game every four years and we’re looking forward to tomorrow and we’re all very excited.”

Hudson is comfortable with the team’s recovery and preparation for the biggest match of his time in charge of the national team.

They are taking it day-by-day with experienced centre-half Tommy Smith as he looks to overcome a niggly calf injury which he picked up in Wellington.

“He’s had a fitness test this morning and we’ve decided to rest him and we’ll have another test tomorrow to see how he’s doing. We’ll make a decision on his fitness tomorrow.”

But the coach is confident that striker Chris Wood, who made a 19 minute cameo from the bench which changed the game in Wellington, would be fit enough to start up front for the All Whites.

“Chris Wood has a mild tightness in his hamstring, that’s all,” said Hudson.

Wood, the leading scorer in the Championship in England last season, has made a huge impact with Burnley FC in the English Premier League and has been one of the most influential members of Hudson’s squads in the past three years. Hudson is looking forward to see him build on his impressive performance in the home leg.

“Chris is a very important player to us, but as I said before we don’t have a big team like Peru,” said Hudson. “We have a very small team and we have many, many good players in that team. Chris Wood is important but we have many others who are important and dangerous in tomorrow’s game. We’re not putting all of our faith in Chris Wood as we have lots of other players who can score goals and have scored goals away from home against big teams and caused problems against big teams. We go into the game confident.”

When Hudson was asked whether his team are likely to attack or defend in the match, he replied with a smile: “You will have to wait and see tomorrow,” which was met by laughter in the press conference.

Hudson and Reid said all of the pressure for the second tie was on the hosts as the favourites look to qualify for their first FIFA World Cup since 1982.

Reid, one of the heroes from the All Whites who went undefeated at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, was questioned on why New Zealand has a poor record in international football. He shot back.

“Have you noticed that Peru have not qualified for a World Cup for 30 years? There is pressure on Peru to win the game tomorrow. We’re used to pressure and travel so we are confident about the game.”

Hudson added: “Peru is wonderful, a very nice country, the people have been very welcoming, but I’m not telling you how we will approach the game tomorrow. If Peru lose it will be a national disaster so there a lot of pressure on them.”

The All Whites will walk out to 50,000 mad Peruvian fans tomorrow at the Estadio De Nacional as they look to create their own chapter of football history for New Zealand and qualify for the biggest sports event in the world.

Match Details
FIFA World Cup – Intercontinental Playoff
Away Leg
Wednesday 15 November, 9.15pm (Thursday 16 November, 3.15pm NZT) – Live on SKY Sport
Estadio Nacional de Lima, Peru

New Zealand (from): 1. Stefan Marinovic (GK), 2. Winston Reid (c), 3. Deklan Wynne, 4. Themi Tzimopoulos, 5. Michael Boxall, 6. Bill Tuiloma, 7. Kosta Barbarouses, 8. Michael McGlinchey, 9. Chris Wood, 10. Shane Smeltz, 11. Marco Rojas, 12. Glen Moss (GK), 13. Monty Patterson, 14. Ryan Thomas, 15. Clayton Lewis, 16. Dane Ingham, 17. Jeremy Brockie, 18. Kip Colvey, 19. Rory Fallon, 20. Tommy Smith, 22. Andrew Durante, 23. Max Crocombe (GK) Coach: Anthony Hudson

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