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New Zealand face shamans and spirits in bid for World Cup berth

New Zealand take on Peru to decide the 32nd and final team for the 2018 World Cup in Russia and it appears the All Whites will have to overcome shamans and witchdoctors to win the spot.

football Updated: Nov 15, 2017 23:05 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
New Zealand,Peru,FIFA World Cup
The first leg in the FIFA World Cup play-off match between New Zealand and Peru ended in 0-0 draw.(REUTERS)

New Zealand take on Peru to decide the 32nd team for the 2018 World Cup, but it appears the Kiwis will have to overcome a lot more than just the Peruvian XI to make it to Russia.

Peruvian shamans and witchdoctors have put a curse on the All Whites ahead of Thursday’s crucial World Cup qualifying play-off in Lima, reported www.news.com.au.

New Zealand need a win or at least a (1-1) draw to go through.

One Shaman put a snake on the photos of the New Zealand players’ photos while another spat liquid outside Estadio Nacional --- venue for the match.

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Before the team arrived for training, the driver decided to use a different route and when the bus got to the gate, it was too low for the double-decker bus. The driver tried four or five times, but the bus couldn’t enter, much to the amusement of the local media.

Seeing this, a local journalist shouted, “This is a sign, this is a sign.”

Eventually, the players walked to the stadium. The team bus was late and any further delay would have led New Zealand to miss the captain’s run.

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As the team arrived for training, keys of the stadium were misplaced, only to be found 30 minutes later.

New Zealand had a trying time as their flight was delayed by Peruvian airport authorities and had to make an unscheduled stop in Chile. All this meant the team arrived at the hotel at midnight instead of 9pm and went to bed at 1.30am.

Despite all this, the All Whites remain unfazed. Defender Andrew Durante said, “We expected this type of stuff though and it’s all part of the occasion.”

“As a nation, they are very proud and very keen to make it to the World Cup and they will pull out all the stops to make sure it is as uncomfortable as possible for us.

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“It feels like maybe it could be,” said Durante when asked if such episodes were deliberate psychological ploys.

“Whether it is or not, you don’t know — but you are always guessing everything when you come over here. But the hotel is lovely, the area is nice and we were well received at training. There were lot of kids running around and they all wanted Winston (Reid) and (Chris Woods) Woodsy’s autographs too.”

Despite all that’s happened, the Peruvians have been welcoming with no signs of nastiness that New Zealand’s trans-Tasman rivals Australia faced against Uruguay in 2001 and 2005.

First Published: Nov 15, 2017 23:05 IST