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Expert predictions: Do the All Whites have what it takes to beat Peru?

A hit job, smash and grab, park the bus.

Whatever the approach, the two matches against the team ranked 10th in the world will not be pretty.

But if Anthony Hudson can get the tactical recipe right at the Cake Tin – and there’s a sprinkling of luck – then it could be a beautiful night in the capital.

So do the All Whites have what it takes to punish Peru?

3 Reasons why the All Whites can win

Wood's Premier League side are supportive of his international commitments. Source: 1 NEWS

1. Wood

The Chris Wood-Winston Reid factor can’t be over-stated. As Ryan Nelsen was eight years ago, these two are critical to the All Whites getting a result in Wellington. Wood’s performance against the Solomon Islands in his last international outing (a hat-trick, including a sumptuous lob), and his three goals for high-flying Burnley put him out on his own as being our genuine goalscoring threat.

Forget the fluff about Dorchester Town’s Rory Fallon and the “enthusiasm” he brings into the camp. The All Whites are a professional unit coming up against a side that finished above Chile, Paraguay and Ecuador in qualifying – they’ll be looking to the players who are thriving at the highest level. Wood is playing with swagger, and has the experience to handle the burden of expectation.

The Peruvian team trained at QBE Stadium this afternoon in Albany. Source: 1 NEWS

2. No Paolo Guerrero

A failed doping test means Peru’s record goalscorer is out of the tie. That’s a huge psychological blow, and Ricardo Gareca will have to re-jig a winning formula. An away goal in Wellington could kill off New Zealand’s campaign before it even gets going – an absent Guerrero makes the job a tad trickier.

3. Wellington

It was dour, it was pure delight. A desperate 1-0 win over Bahrain in 2009, in arguably the best-ever atmosphere at a New Zealand sporting event. Wellington was rocking, as Rory Fallon and Mark Paston produced two unforgettable moments. If the All Whites can make home advantage count, it won’t just be the visitors facing a hostile crowd in the return leg in Lima. You can’t beat Wellington on a good day, and it could be difficult to beat the All Whites on a terrible night. Pray for wind and rain.

3 Reasons why the All Whites will struggle

1. Quality

It’s been the bane of Hudson’s tenure, but competitive preparation is always a struggle for the All Whites. Will the Confederations Cup and a few matches against top-class opposition be enough to have battle-hardened this side? Peru was the so-called ‘preferred’ South American opponent, but they’ve been duking it out in the formidable CONMEBOL group against Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and Colombia. There’s a reason they’re 112 places above the All Whites in the FIFA rankings.

Smith hasn't played for NZ since 2014 after coach Anthony Hudson excluded him from the squad last year due to his lack of commitment to the national team. Source: 1 NEWS

2. Combinations

This is a strong New Zealand squad. But whether the combinations will click is another matter. Winston Reid and Tommy Smith aren’t a regular duo and the All Whites desperately need to keep a clean sheet in this game. Individual brilliance may decide the match, but Hudson’s men have to be rock solid – a massive ask.

3. 1982

It was the date New Zealand Football desperately needed to get over, and qualification for the 2010 World Cup was a massive relief and success. Peru is on its own crusade to return to the top table and there will be massive pressure on them over the two legs. Will 1982 be the magic number for the South Americans this time around?


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