11 Oct 2017

Peru stand between All Whites and World Cup

4:26 pm on 11 October 2017

The All Whites chances of qualifying for the World Cup have improved slightly, but football fans won't get the chance to see one of the world's greatest players Argentina's Lionel Messi, strut his stuff in Wellington.

New Zealand will play Peru for a place in the World Cup finals in Russia next year in an intercontinental home-and-away playoff next month after the conclusion of South American qualifying on Wednesday.

The All Whites knew they'd be up against the fifth-placed team from South America, but who that would be was up in the air until the final round of matches.

Up to six teams were in contention to claim fifth spot and book a meeting with Oceania confederation champions New Zealand heading into the matches and Peru were set to miss out altogether as they trailed 1-0 at home to Colombia in Lima.

But a goal with around 10 minutes remaining earned the home team a 1-1 draw and left them in fifth-place, where they had been after the penultimate round of matches.

New Zealand fans were hoping it might be fourth ranked Argentina in a home and away play off as that would have brought Lionel Messi to Westpac Stadium in Wellington.

All Whites captain Chris Wood battles for posession in the OFC Nations Cup semi-final against New Caledonia.

Chris Wood and the All Whites will play 12th placed Peru. Photo: Photosport

But Messi had other ideas, scoring a hatrick as he guided his side to a 3-1 win over Ecuador, meaning Argentina finish third in their group to automatically qualify for Russia.

Peru snuck into fifth spot with a late equaliser, drawing one-all with Columbia to book their tickets to Wellington.

All Whites coach Anthony Hudson says it was a frenetic afternoon keeping tabs on who they might play.

"In my house we had the big screen and then three laptops on the table, the analyst and assistant coach and the table then changed four or five times throughout the game but you can't really analyse things because the next team that was fifth (kept changing) but now we know who we have got we can start planning," said Hudson.

All Whites coach Anthony Hudson

All Whites coach Anthony Hudson Photo: Photosport

Peru is ranked 12th in the world compared to New Zealand at 113 and winning the opening leg in Wellington will be crucial if Hudson and the All Whites are to get to Russia.

"We need a big crowd (in Wellington). We need a big atmosphere. When we went to Tokyo last week the home crowd there was unbelievable. They were loud the whole game. Every mistake you made they were all over it which just adds to the pressure so we need that at home. Our fans for this game really are the twelfth man."

Football's world governing body FIFA is yet to confirm the dates of the playoff matches.