New Zealand v Peru
11 November 2017 | Westpac Stadium, Wellington | World Cup Qualifier, OFC–CONMEBOL play-off first leg
Peru v New Zealand
15 November 2017 | Estadio Nacional, Lima | World Cup Qualifier, OFC–CONMEBOL play-off second leg
Unofficial Football World Champions Peru face UFWC virgins New Zealand over two legs of the OFC–CONMEBOL World Cup qualification play-off. Peru haven’t qualified for the World Cup since 1982 – when they had their last reign as unofficial champions. New Zealand also qualified for the World Cup in 1982, and again in 2010. But New Zealand have never before played in an Unofficial Football World Championships title match.
For UFWC purposes, the two legs of the play-off are treated as two entirely separate matches. Whoever is the winner at the end of 90 minutes of each match will be UFWC champions. If the match is drawn after 90 minutes, the holder will retain the title. In the event of an aggregate draw, any extra time or penalties won’t affect the UFWC, as they will be used to decide the overall outcome of the two-legged play-off, and won’t affect the results of the individual matches. It is possible that either Peru or New Zealand could win the second match to become UFWC champions, but lose the play-off on aggregate and fail to qualify for the World Cup.
Peru and New Zealand have never played each other. Peru are currently ranked 10th in the world by FIFA, while New Zealand are 122nd. Peru are 22nd in the UFWC rankings, while New Zealand obviously don’t have a UFWC rank, having never played a UFWC match.
Ricardo Gareca’s Peru will be firm favourites, although La Blanquirroja have suffered a major blow ahead of the game with the loss of captain and record goalscorer Paolo Guerrero, who is suspended after failing a drug test. Guerrero claims to have been taking a flu medication. The veteran striker has long been Peru’s best player, and will be a huge miss. Fellow veteran Jefferson Farfán will look to fill Guerrero’s goalscoring boots, along with Raúl Ruidíaz and Watford’s André Carrillo. Midfielders Christian Cueva and Edison Flores will get forward and look to fill the void, too.
The New Zealand manager is Englishman Anthony Hudson, the son of former Chelsea and England star Alan Hudson. Anthony Hudson made his name in football in the US as coach Real Maryland Monarchs, before returning to England to coach Tottenham Hotspur reserves. A brief period in charge of Newport County was followed by a three-year stint with the Bahrain national team. He moved to New Zealand to manage the All Whites in 2014.
Several members of the New Zealand squad play their club football in England, including West Ham defender Winston Reid – the national team captain, Burnley striker Chris Wood, and Ipswich pair Tommy Smith and Monty Patterson. Chris Wood is the squad’s joint-top scorer (alongside Shane Smeltz) with 24 goals in 54 games, including five goals in the last five games. Goalkeeper Glen Moss, defender Andrew Durante, and midfielder Michael McGlinchey all play in the Australian A-League. Durante and McGlinchey will play the first leg at the home stadium of their club Wellington Phoenix. Michael Boxall, Kip Colvey and Bill Tuiloma play in MLS in the US. And attacking midfielder Marco Rojas plays in the Netherlands with Heerenveen.
The first match takes place in Wellington on Saturday afternoon, 11 November, with a 16:15 kick-off (03:15 on Saturday morning in the UK). The second match is in Lima four days later, on Wednesday 15 November, at 21:15 (02:15 on Thursday morning in the UK).
We’ll have coverage of both matches right here on the UFWC website. In the meantime, if you’re new to the Unofficial Football World Championships you can find out all about the UFWC here. And you can keep up to date with all things UFWC by following us on Twitter or Facebook.