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?



Croatia captain Luka Modric claims FIFA Player of the Year award

Luka Modric has broken a decade of award dominance by Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi after being crowned world footballer of the year by FIFA, while Marta won the women's award for a sixth time.

Modric was voted FIFA's best player in the 2017-18 season after winning the Champions League for a fourth time in five seasons with Real Madrid and leading Croatia to its first World Cup final where it lost to France.

Messi and Ronaldo have been the only winners of world soccer's main individual award from FIFA in various guises since 2008, both winning five titles each.

Messi didn't make the three-man shortlist and skipped the trip to London. Ronaldo was shortlisted but also didn't turn up at the ceremony to be dethroned in person by his former Real Madrid teammate. Egypt forward Mohamed Salah also made the top three for the first time.

Luka Modric wins the World Cup golden ball award
Luka Modric wins the World Cup golden ball award Source: Associated Press


Topics

TODAY'S
TOP STORIES

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah wins FIFA goal of the year award

Liverpool star Mohamed Salah's strike in last season's Merseyside derby against Everton at Anfield has won the FIFA Puskas Award for the goal of the season.

Ten goals were shortlisted for the award, with many pundits predicting a win for Gareth Bale's acrobatic volley in the Champions League final for Real Madrid against Liverpool.

But the Egyptian star's effort, which saw him spin past two Everton players before curling a left-foot shot into the far corner, gained 38 per cent of the more than 500,000 votes cast.

The award, which is named after Hungary and Real Madrid great Ferenc Puskas, was the first announced at the Best FIFA Football Awards in London. Salah, 26, has also been shortlisted for men's player of the year.

He told the audience at the Royal Festival Hall that he hoped to win another prize later in the evening.

France's World Cup-winning boss Didier Deschamps was named men's coach of the year.

The 49-year-old was up against Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic, whose side lost to France in the final in Russia this summer, and Zinedine Zidane, who led Real Madrid to a third straight Champions League win.

Deschamps' win was no surprise, given the focus on Russia 2018, and he used his acceptance speech to warmly thanks his backroom staff and players.

Meanwhile, former Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois won the goalkeeper of the year prize, beating Leicester's Kasper Schmeichel and Hugo Lloris of Tottenham Hotspur and World Cup-winning France.

All three enjoyed great World Cup campaigns, with Courtois helping Belgium to a third-place finish.

Now with Real Madrid, the 26-year-old Courtois joked before his award was announced that FIFA should also hand out a save-of-the-year prize.

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah
Liverpool's Mohamed Salah Source: Associated Press


Topics

TODAY'S
FEATURED STORIES

Watch: Brazil star Neymar gifts jersey to crying fan in PSG win over Rennes

Neymar was whistled off the field today but showed he held no grudge against Rennes fans by giving his shirt to a young boy who ran across the pitch to hug the Brazil star.

With PSG leading 3-1 in the French league game, Neymar slowly walked back to the Paris Saint-Germain bench in the 90th minute at Rennes — as coach Thomas Tuchel made his final substitution — when the boy escaped security and ran toward the striker.

The boy burst into tears when he reached Neymar and pointed at his shirt.

Neymar took the boy under his arm and walked back to the sidelines, gesturing toward security guards to indicate everything was okay.

Neymar then took off his shirt and gave it to the boy, who was taken away by stewards.

Neymar had a mostly anonymous performance before the incident, with a mediocre display in Brittany.

Five days after slumping to their first loss this season in a 3-2 Champions League defeat at Liverpool, PSG struggled in the first half but came from behind to win 3-1 and remain perfect in the French league with a sixth consecutive win.

PSG remains five points clear at the top.

Playing without the suspended Kylian Mbappe, the defending champions faced strong resistance from an inspired home side that defended well and destabilised PSG on the break.

PSG conceded early when Adrien Rabiot scored a clumsy own-goal. Tuchel's side managed to turn things around with goals from Angel Di Maria, Thomas Meunier and Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting.

Rennes played with three attacking players and applied early pressure on Gianluigi Buffon's goal.

Mbaye Niang and Ismaila Sarr tested the Italian 'keeper before Rabiot inadvertently sent the ball into Buffon's net from a corner after a header from Niang ricocheted off his shoulder in the 11th minute.

Rennes could not build on the momentum and started to play deeper as PSG took control of the match and leveled just before halftime with a low-shot from Julian Draxler's cut-back pass.

Edinson Cavani hit the post at the start of the second half and Meunier scored at the end of a swift counterattack with a right-footed shot.

Subsitute Choupo-Moting then celebrated his league debut with a goal in the 83rd from Meunier's pass.

Neymar won over his rivals after giving away his playing jersey to a young boy who stormed the field. Source: BT Sport


Topics


Chelsea's perfect Premier League start ended with West Ham stalemate

West Ham ended Chelsea's perfect start to the Premier League season as the London clubs played out a 0-0 draw.

Chelsea had recorded five wins in its first five games but, after a tiring trip to Greece midweek to play in the Europa League, Maurizio Sarri's team never really got going against an energetic and organized opponent.

And the Hammers looked more likely to find a winner for much of the game, with Chelsea 'keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga - the world's most expensive goalkeeper - forced into the best save of the match, and Andriy Yarmolenko missing a simple chance late on for West Ham.

Chelsea improved as the game went on but Alvaro Morata wasted its best chance, firing straight at Lukasz Fabianski soon after coming off the bench.

Chelsea's Marcos Alonso against West Ham's Andriy Yarmolenko
Chelsea's Marcos Alonso against West Ham's Andriy Yarmolenko Source: Associated Press


Topics