FIFA extends international window for New Zealand-Peru playoff
WELLINGTON (Reuters) - FIFA has extended the international window by a day to allow New Zealand and Peru more time for the logistics of playing their long-haul World Cup playoff in November.
Oceania champions New Zealand will host Peru at Wellington Regional Stadium on Nov. 11 in the first leg, with the second leg to be played in Lima on Nov. 15, New Zealand Football confirmed on Sunday.
"With what is at stake â€“ a place in the FIFA World Cup â€“ 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," NZF chief executive Andy Martin said in a media release.
"The interest in this FIFA World Cup qualifier from the media and the New Zealand football community has been huge and our team has been inundated with calls on these details. Now it is confirmed we can complete our preparations and look forward to one of the biggest sports events in New Zealand."
The playoff will be the teams' first meeting.
Anthony Hudson-coached New Zealand qualified for the intercontinental playoff after defeating the Solomon Islands 8-3 on aggregate in the final round of Oceania qualifying.
The All Whites are bidding for their third World Cup after reaching the 1982 and 2010 finals.
They missed out on Brazil in 2014 after being thrashed by Mexico in the intercontinental playoff the previous year.
Peru, who reached the playoff as the fifth-ranked side in South American qualifying, are bidding for their fifth World Cup and first since 1982.
New Zealand broke their long World Cup drought to qualify for 2010 with a 1-0 win in Wellington in the second leg of their playoff with Bahrain, triggering nation-wide celebrations.
"Football fans in this country have great memories of that magical night in Wellington when the All Whites beat Bahrain to qualify for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. The folklore around that game is huge," said Martin.
"We want to re-create that atmosphere. We need all of New Zealand behind the All Whites as they look to create history and qualify for the FIFA World Cup.
"We know that when we get to Peru we will be met with a very hostile environment so we hope that our fans can create an atmosphere that gives our boys a huge lift in the opening match of the tie."
(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)