Confident yet anxious - What Peru fans think ahead of Australia clash
As the Socceroos prepare for their intercontinental playoff against Perú, the atmosphere within the South American country is relatively buoyant.
Four years ago, Australia's chances of progressing to the knockout stage of the 2018 World Cup were dashed as Perú claimed a historic 2-0 victory in Sochi, Russia.
Peru was already eliminated after defeats to Denmark and France. But they were motivated by their travelling fans to get their first World Cup win since the 1978 edition in Argentina.
It's been four years since that historic victory, and Peruvians are confident heading into the game against Australia.
FPF spoke with a few Peruvian supporters to gain an insight into what the atmosphere is like within the country's football ecosystem.
"I am confident in the team and Ricardo Gareca," Peruvian football journalist Diego Montalvan said.
"From a journalistic point of view, I think it will be a great matchup; as a Peruvian, I am anxious for the game.
"Through the FIFA rankings, Perú is ranked higher (22) than Australia (45), so you would expect them to win, but we all know that there is no logic in these kinds of games.
"Ricardo Gareca and three other members of his coaching staff were present at the Australia UAE match, so they’ve played close attention to their next rivals.
"The country is very amped for this match. The possibility of making it to back-to-back World Cups would be incredible (it would be the first time since 1978 and 1982).
"Many Peruvian fans are travelling. They want to keep showing that they are the best fans in the world and love being the “home team” wherever they go."
Peruvian-Australian football fan Scott Torres believes Peru does have weaknesses that Australia has to exploit to win the game.
"Peru certainly are favourites to win the match," Torres said.
"However, there are moments when the Peruvian defence can cause mistakes due to miscommunication or whatnot, so the Socceroos need to pounce on those errors.
"Through a high press, they can force an error from Perú and create some chances."
Similarly to Montalvan, Torres says that most Peruvians believe the 2018 Australian side they played against in Sochi was stronger than Graham Arnold's current crop.
"A majority of Peruvian fans think the 2018 Socceroos team that they beat 2-0 was a stronger team than now, so they are believing that they will win," Torres added.
"If Perú score, there will be movement on the Richter scale. The Socceroos defence needs to hold on for as long as they can to avoid that."
Peru fan Alex El Perucho says he won't be alone as thousands of Peruvian supporters will embark on the Qatari capital.
"Plenty of Peruvians will be flying from all over the world for the game," El Perucho said.
"The game against Australia will be a national holiday in Perú, so everyone in the country will be able to watch this all together live."
El Perucho is wary of Australia's strengths but believes Perú will be too strong for the Socceroos.
"Australia has an advantage in height and athleticism, especially on set pieces," he added.
"However, I believe, on paper, Perú has more experience and better quality than Australia.
"Our World Cup qualifiers have to be the hardest in the world, so not winning against Australia and throwing two years' worth of work away would break Peruvian hearts.
"Peruvian fans are confident they will give that extra push that Perú needs to seal qualification."
Former Perú international Ramón Mifflin believes that the Socceroos had problems in their recent match against the United Arab Emirates. He claimed that Australia lacks quality.
"Against the UAE, I saw that Australia had a lot of problems," Mifflin said via GOLPERU.
"[Harib Abdalla] wandered around with [Nathaniel Atkinson]; their centre backs were slow with no ideas [of where] to go.
"There is no creativity [in Australia], just the left footer who plays in Frankfurt is the one that worried the Emiratis a little. Their goals were presented to them due to the UAE's mistakes.
"[Australia] is very poor and without ideas. They're timid and do not look for the opposition's goal."
The Socceroos take on Perú for a spot at the 2022 FIFA World Cup tomorrow morning, with kick-off at 4am AEST, live on Network 10.
*All sources in Spanish translated by Ian Pulczynski*
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