16 Nov 2017

Hay backing All Whites

5:41 am on 16 November 2017

Former All Whites captain Danny Hay says all the pressure is on Peru for their World Cup playoff match against New Zealand.

NZ Football under-17 coach Danny Hay.

NZ Football under-17 coach Danny Hay. Photo: NZ Football

Ranked 10th in the world, Peru were unable to break through the defence of the 122nd-ranked All Whites as the first leg of the tie in Wellington last weekend finished in a nil-all draw.

Capped 31 times for the national team, Hay said that result could play a crucial role in the final result of the return leg in Peruvian capital Lima on Thursday afternoon (NZ time).

"There is going to be a bit more pressure mounted on their shoulders.

"There is a huge amount of expectation, with 35 million Peruvians who will be shouting at their [TV] screen or in the stands.

"There is a huge amount of pressure on them now to go out and win the tie, which I think plays into the hands of the New Zealanders."

Given those thoughts, it is not surprising to also hear Hay's belief the match is the biggest in the history of New Zealand football.

A spot at next year's World Cup in Russia is on the line in the game to be played in front of a football-mad sellout crowd at the national stadium.

Putting everything into context, it is a historic occasion for the sport in New Zealand, Hay said.

"The atmosphere, what's at stake now, and what the World Cup can bring for an organisation like New Zealand Football financially is enormous.

"You're playing against world class South American opposition in their backyard, so it doesn't get any more difficult."

Despite that, Hay still believes the All Whites can pull off what would be a huge upset.

The coach of the national under-17 men's team is not expecting a different tactical approach from the All Whites.

The two teams battled to a nil-all draw in the first leg, the New Zealand team taking a mostly safety-first approach in the first half before opening up more in the second spell.

Hay said he expects All Whites coach Anthony Hudson to adopt a similar game plan in Lima.

"[New Zealand] need to get a foothold in the game.

"The last thing they can afford to do is concede an early goal, then obviously you've got to open it up and start chasing it.

"But if we can nick one, and I'm confident we can, with the away goals rule it's going to put a huge amount of pressure on Peru."