September 13, 2017 / 11:43 PM / 10 months ago

Argentina move key qualifier to Boca's Bombonera stadium

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentina will play next month’s World Cup qualifier against Peru at Boca Juniors’ Bombonera stadium rather than their traditional home venue in Buenos Aires, a move they hope will give them an advantage in the crucial encounter.

With two games left to play, Argentina sit fifth in the South American qualifying table for Russia 2018 and play Peru, who are a place above them on goal difference, on Oct. 5.

The top four teams qualify automatically and the fifth-placed side faces a home and away playoff against New Zealand.

Argentina play most of their home games at the Monumental stadium in Buenos Aires, the home of Boca’s rivals River Plate.

But new coach Jorge Sampaoli wanted to move the game to the smaller Bombonera, where the crowd is more tightly packed in, to give them a boost for the must-win match.

Argentina reached the 2014 World Cup final in Brazil but have been poor in South American qualifying for Russia, most recently drawing at home with Venezuela, the bottom side in the 10-team group.

Media reports have said Peru asked FIFA to shift the match away from the Bombonera, claiming the home side would be unable to guarantee the players’ safety at the famously fervent stadium.

Players from River Plate were attacked with pepper spray during a Copa Libertadores match at the ground in 2015, leading to their ejection from the tournament and a ban on playing home games there.

Reporting by Andrew Downie; Editing by Ian Ransom

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