FIFA World Cup Qualifiers: Australia and Peru eye Qatar 2022 spot in intercontinental playoff

Both Peru and Australia are taking the playoff route for a second time in a World Cup qualification campaign, but this time only one can go through.

The Socceroos will be banking on the advantage of having played in Qatar in recent times, while Peru will be playing in Qatar for the first time.   -  GETTY IMAGES

Australia takes on Peru in a high-stakes inter-confederation playoff final clash at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium here on Monday. Both Peru and Australia are taking the playoff route for a second time in a World Cup qualification campaign, but this time only one can go through.

It will just be the second meeting between the two sides – Peru beat Australia 2-0 in the group stage of the 2018 World Cup.

Follow the match live: Australia vs Peru, FIFA World Cup Intercontinental playoff live: Lineups, H2H, form guide

Peru has a well-settled unit under Ricardo Gareca and will head into the contest favourites to make it a second successive finals appearance, while Australia risks not making the World Cup for the first time since the 2006 edition.

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The Socceroos will be banking on the advantage of having played in Qatar in recent times; three World Cup qualifiers since 2021 and have acclimatised to the conditions for well over two weeks. Peru, meanwhile, will be playing in Qatar for the first time.

“Our preparation has been spot on. We have had four games (including a friendly) here in Qatar. It’s a completely different experience playing in an air-conditioned stadium compared to a regular stadium. Our boys are used to it. I see it as an advantage that Peru has not played in these conditions before,” said Aussie coach Graham Arnold.

Australia will be wary of Peru's skillful technical players, particularly Christian Cueva and Andre Carillo, and will likely have to bide its time for opportunities. 

Arnold, who took over the job since the 2018 World Cup exit, was bullish in his expectations.

“Our players are ready. They know their jobs and I have a simple message for them: Go out and do it the ‘Aussie way’. Fight for 90 minutes and be very physical. Technically, the Peruvians will be surprised by how much Australian football has improved,” he said.

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It is estimated that over 10,000 Peruvian supporters are expected to be at the venue to will their team on. On the support, Peru coach Ricardo Gareca said, “Only a World Cup can bring up these feelings, what people are capable of doing, we experienced it closely in Russia, where Peruvians appeared from who knows where, the sacrifice that the people made, is an extraordinary moment, you have to live it.”

The winner will join the Group C of France, Denmark and Tunisia in the finals.

(The writer is in Qatar at the invitation of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy)

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