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Guerrero available for World Cup playoff, says Peru coach

Lima (Peru), Oct 21 (IANS) Striker Paolo Guerrero will be available for Peru’s football World Cup intercontinental playoff against New Zealand despite concerns about his fitness, according to national team coach Ricardo Gareca.

The former Bayern Munich player limped off the pitch with an apparent hamstring injury while playing for Flamengo in their 4-1 victory over Bahia in Brazil’s Serie A championship on Thursday. But Gareca said he had been assured that the problem is not serious, reports Xinhua news agency.

“We have been in contact and he came off (against Bahia) as a precaution,” Gareca told a news conference after announcing his squad for the home-and-away tie against the top-ranked team from Oceania.

“We don’t think there’s going to be any problem for him to be ready for the first match.”

New Zealand will host the first leg in Wellington on November 11 before the teams meet again in Lima four days later.

Peru, who are aiming for their first World Cup finals berth since 1982, advanced to the playoff by finishing fifth in South America’s CONMEBOL qualifying tournament.

Despite the difference in their FIFA rankings — Peru are 10th and New Zealand 122nd — Gareca said he expected a difficult match against the All-Whites.

“Obviously we are analyzing their team and we think they are going to be tough rivals, who play to a plan and have quality players,” he said.

“As far as we are concerned there are no weak rivals. We never underestimate anybody.”

Peru squad:

Goalkeepers: Pedro Gallese Veracruz, Carlos Caceda, Jose Carvallo

Defenders: Alberto Rodriguez, Aldo Corzo, Anderson Santamaria, Miguel Araujo, Luis Abram, Miguel Trauco, Christian Ramos, Luis Advincula, Nilson Loyola

Midfielders: Paolo Hurtado, Christian Cueva, Renato Tapia, Andy Polo, Sergio Pena, Andre Carrillo, Yoshimar Yotu, Edison Flores, Wilder Cartagen, Jose Manzaneda, Pedro Aquino

Forwards: Paolo Guerrero, Raul Ruidiaz, Jefferson Farfan.

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