Peru’s national football team could win a spot in the World Cup for the first time in nearly four decades.
All that stands between them and a chance at glory is New Zealand.
CGTN’s Dan Collyns reports.
For Peruvians, the dream of qualifying for the next World Cup is still alive.
After years of disappointment and near misses, this is as close as Peru has come in decades.
Facing Colombia in the South America group’s final qualifying matches, the opponents scored first. But then, in an indirect free kick at goal, Peru equalized.
Peruvians celebrated, realizing that they are on the brink of qualifying for the World Cup after drawing with Colombia. They must beat New Zealand in a play-off in November to go through.
The outcome means Colombia qualifies directly for the 2018 tournament in Russia, while fifth-place Peru must vie for a World Cup berth with New Zealand in two matches—one at home and one away.
“I’ve never seen Peru in a World Cup, but I’m certain we’re going to make it this time with strength and tenacity. We’ll get to Russia in 2018,” said one fan.
“I’m so excited,” exclaimed another. “Can you imagine if we can make it to the World Cup after so many years? We’re just one step away.”
Most Peruvians have never seen their country compete in a World Cup. The last time Peru played in football’s most important competition was in 1982.
Some fans, though, are old enough to remember.
“We are going to repeat history,” said one such fan. “We’ve got a great team. We could have done with another goal, but we’re going to the playoff, and we will win.”
Unbeaten for six games, Peru has come far in one of the world’s most competitive regions—South America.
Ricardo Gareca, Peru’s Coach, put it this way: “One of the goals we came here with was, first of all, to have the possibility to directly qualify, and if not, to reach the playoffs, and we got it.”
It’s not over yet, but Peruvians are one step closer to a singular national goal that has eluded them for so long.