WELLINGTON: New Zealand and Peru’s intercontinental World Cup play-off will begin in Wellington on November 11 with an extended four-day break before the return match in Lima, according to dates released on Sunday.
The two-legged play-off has been extended by a day to take into account the huge distance between the two countries.
The delayed second leg means the playoff between the Oceania champions and the fifth placed team from South America will determine the 32nd and final qualifier for next year’s World Cup in Russia.
With time differences taken into account, the two legs will be played almost five days apart.
The first match will be played in the New Zealand capital Wellington with the return fixture in Lima.
New Zealand Football Chief Executive Andy Martin said preparations can begin in earnest now that dates have been confirmed.
“We have been waiting for this confirmation for some time so we are pleased we can start building towards hosting Peru on November 11,” Martin said.
“Now it is confirmed we can complete our preparations and look forward to one of the biggest sports events in New Zealand.”
Martin said FIFA agreed to extend the gap between the two legs after considering requests from both national teams to take into account the long-haul travel involved.
“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,” he said.
New Zealand, who have never played Peru before, have been to the World Cup on two occasions, in 1982 and in 2010, while Peru have qualified for four finals but not since 1982.