As of now, 31 teams have qualified for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. With Australia defeating Honduras in the middle of the night, it means just one more spot is available. Peru faces New Zealand where the winner will claim the final ticket to Russia this summer.
Peru is ranked 10th in the world, according to the FIFA Rankings. But while it seems Peru has a top team, CONMEBOL World Cup qualification is one of the toughest places to qualify. Only 4.5 teams qualify in the 10 team field and after Neymar’s Brazil, Messi’s Argentina, James Rodriguez’s Colombia, there aren’t too many spots left for the rest. It was so tough that the defending Copa America and Centenario champs Chile didn’t qualify.
So Peru finished 5th and are in the playoff against New Zealand. If Peru wins, and qualifies for their first World Cup since 1982, the Peruvian government will approve a national holiday Thursday to give most people there the day off to celebrate.
??[Comunicado] #UnSoloAliento De lograr el sueño de la clasificación al Mundial Rusia 2018 este miércoles 15 de noviembre, se declarará día no laborable a nivel nacional el jueves 16 de noviembre (sujeto a compensación). #ArribaPerú?? pic.twitter.com/VfcFSgG2vS
— MINISTERIO TRABAJO (@MTPE_Peru) November 14, 2017
The Peruvians are not leaving any stone unturned to give their country mates an advantage against New Zealand. For instance, fans set off a very awesome fireworks display at 3:30 AM 0utside the New Zealand hotel.
Peru fans 'welcoming' NZ ahead of their WCQ..with fireworks outside the NZ hotel at 3:30a? Never change, South America..
— COPA90 US (@COPA90US) November 15, 2017
While it hurts in this country that the US didn’t qualify, the World Cup is magical based on what it means to people around the world. For places like the United States and Italy, we sometimes took it for granted that we would qualify for the World Cup every four years that when we didn’t, it not only hurts but it’s a major shock. For places like Peru, Egypt, Morocco, Panama and Iceland, teams who haven’t qualified in a long time or have never qualified, getting to the tournament is the ultimate. And just qualifying is like winning it all.