When: Monday, June 13
Where: Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, Qatar
Kick-off: 18:00 GMT
Doha, Qatar – Australia and Peru are set to face off in Qatar on Monday evening in a game Peru’s captain Pedro Gallese has termed the “match of our lives”, with the winners assured a place in the World Cup 2022.
Australia, nicknamed the “Socceroos”, come into the playoff finale on the heels of a nail-biting 2-1 win against the United Arab Emirates last week which earned them a spot in the decider on Monday.
Meanwhile, Peru finished fifth in the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) World Cup group, giving them one final shot at qualification for the World Cup that takes place in Qatar from November 21 this year.
Last week, Peru beat New Zealand in a warmup game in Barcelona, raising the team’s hopes of emulating that result on Monday.
A public holiday has been announced by the Peruvian government on Monday, anticipating that much of the country will be keenly following the game that kicks off at 1pm Peru time.
Head to head
The only previous game the two countries have played against each other was in the 2018 World Cup in Russia where Peru registered a 2-0 win.
However, both teams failed to make it to the knockout stage in that tournament.
Peru is ranked 22 in the world and Australia is at 42.
‘Match of our lives’
“Nobody has the advantage and it is going to be very difficult,” Peru’s Gallese, who is also the goal-keeper, said at a news conference in Doha on Sunday.
“There’s a lot at stake, so for many of us this is going to be the match of our lives and we are going to face it like that.”
Peru’s coach Ricardo Gareca announced the return of two players in the squad after recovering from injuries – Luis Advincula of Argentinian club Boca Juniors, and Renato Tapia who plays for Spanish side Celta Vigo.
On midfielder Yoshimar Yotun’s inclusion, Garcea said they would wait until Monday to announce whether he will participate.
Meanwhile, in the Socceroos camp, the coaches are waiting for some positive news on defender Trent Sainsbury and striker Adam Taggart.
“Yes we got the players who had a couple of niggles, they’re healthy and fit. We’re pushing to get back into the starting 11, but also the 23-man squad,” Australian coach Graham Arnold said at a news conference on Sunday.
Monday’s winners will be placed in Group D which includes France, Denmark and Tunisia.
A total of 30 countries have qualified for the 32-team World Cup.
Route to World Cup playoff – last five games
Beat UAE 2-1
Lost to Saudi Arabia 1-0
Lost to Japan 1-0
Drew with Oman 2-2
Beat Vietnam 4-0
Beat Paraguay 2-0
Lost to Uruguay 1-0
Drew with Ecuador 1-1
Beat Colombia 1-0
Beat Venezuela 2-1
What they said
Peru coach Ricardo Gareca: “It is a crucial match … we know each other for seven years now and this national team have already faced and overcame complicated moments knowing how difficult the path can be, but we want to experience matches like this, and we are prepared for this type of match.”
Australian defender Jason Davidson: “I think the boys are just excited to get out there and get the job done. For us, the belief is in the squad. We’ve been here for two weeks now. We’ve won two games. Confidence is high and we believe in one another … It’s going to be a tough match. But like I said, the boys are full of belief and we’re one step away from going to the World Cup.”