LIMA (Reuters) - New Zealand’s towering striker Chris Wood is set to start Wednesday’s decisive World Cup playoff match against Peru and the hosts are concerned about the size of their opponents all over the pitch.
The five Kiwi defenders who started Saturday’s 0-0 first-leg draw measured an average 1.84 metres, while the four Peruvians who played up front against them were on average 10 cm shorter.
“The fact is that this game is going to be as hard and complicated as the game was in New Zealand because it’s not easy to play against the walls that make up their defence,” Peru striker Jefferson Farfan said.
The Peruvians have been fretting over the appearance of the 1.91 metre Wood, who came on with 15 minutes remaining in the first leg and caused problems for the visitors’ defence.
But Farfan, who is 1.78 metres tall, was candid about the task of facing such burly opponents.
“They’ll surely be prepared in Lima but we have to go out there to break down that defensive line any way we can,” the Lokomotiv Moscow player said.
“It won’t be easy but we’ve fought so hard to have this chance of qualifying for the World Cup that we can’t not take advantage.”
The winners of Wednesday’s intercontinental playoff in Lima will progress to next year’s World Cup in Russia.
New Zealand expect to have Burnley striker Wood on from the start after a hamstring injury restricted him to a substitute appearance in Wellington.
Peru are still without the suspended Paolo Guerrero as they attempt to reach the finals for the first time since 1982.
Reporting by Andrew Downie, editing byv Ed Osmond