It’s been 35 years since Peru’s last appearance at a FIFA World Cup finals, a streak of hurt dating back to the 1982 tournament in Spain. By improbably finishing fifth in CONMEBOL qualifying, ahead of back-to-back Copa America champions Chile and 2014 finalists Ecuador, a home-and-away playoff against Oceania representative New Zealand is the only thing standing in the way of Peru punching their ticket to Russia.
The stakes are obviously incredibly high, but La Blanquirroja have the support of their entire nation, epitomized by the domestic league's decision to suspend play from October 20th to November 15th. The legs of the playoff are set to be played on November 11th in Wellington and November 15th in Lima.
This will allow the national side to intensively train together ahead of those matches. Of Peru’s 23 call ups for qualifiers against Argentina and Colombia in October, nine players played their ball domestically, including experienced defenders Alberto Rodriguez and Aldo Corzo.
FIFA have also extended the international window an extra day to account for the demands of traveling on the players in the first-ever international meeting between these two nations.
“With what is at stake - a place in the FIFA World Cup - we are pleased that FIFA have extended the window by a day and ensured that both teams will have a chance to travel, recover from their jet-lag and be at their best for a home and away qualifiers that will be watched around the world,” said Andy Martin, New Zealand soccer chief executive.
American punk rock band Green Day have also accommodated the team by agreeing to move their show scheduled for November 15th at the Estadio Nacional, now the site of the playoff, to San Marcos Stadium. “We wish the national team luck in such a historic match. Plus, we expect to see all our fans at the same venue as our 2010 gig, for the celebration,” said the band.
Peruvians are hoping to have the time of their lives come November, but New Zealand is out to send them down a boulevard of broken dreams. Hey, I know some Green Day stuff.