All Whites to play Peru for place at the 2018 World Cup
Anthony Hudson will remember this Wednesday for quite some time.
The All Whites coach rode the emotional rollercoaster of watching South American World Cup qualifying like a lot of people, with a television screen and a series of laptops beaming in all the games that mattered as Peru confirmed their spot in November's intercontinental playoff against New Zealand.
Peru finished fifth in South America qualifying after a dramatic final day of matches. Their match finished 1-1 against Colombia, which combined while Chile's 3-0 loss to Brazil booked Peru's trip to Wellington for the first leg on either November 10 or 11. Peru progressed by virtue of a +1 goal difference, as opposed to Chile's -1.
But taking in those games was just the middle part of an exhausting day of travel and meetings for Hudson after he stayed on for an extra few days in Japan following his side's 2-1 loss against Japan in Nagoya on Friday night.
"I got back this morning from Japan, went straight into a board meeting then flew off to my house," Hudson said.
"We had the big screen on, we had about three or four laptops on the table with all the games, but you're sort of just following the scores. You can't properly watch one game.
"The biggest thing now is we're pleased we know who it is and we can start preparing."
You could sense in Hudson's voice and the way he talked that getting Peru, as apposed to the star-studded Argentina or Chile, was a big boost.
Hudson and his staff have been monitoring the South American qualifiers for the better part of a year, but even he admitted they had mainly been following the "bigger teams" in contention to finish fifth, rather than Peru.
There was a collective sigh of relief from around New Zealand when Argentina earned automatic qualification via a Lionel Messi hat-trick against Ecuador. Those fans were even happier when Chile were knocked out, given they boast players such as Arsenal star Alexis Sanchez and Bayern Munich midfielder Arturo Vidal.
But Hudson did also urge caution against over-confidence, pointing out Peru's world ranking of 12 and the expected hostile home crowd in Lima for the second leg.
"They're an effective team, they're a strong team, they've got a big result against Argentina last week [0-0 draw]. It's going to be tough, but certainly it's a game that we all believe we can do something in."
Peru have not played at the World Cup since 1982 - the first year New Zealand played at football's pinnacle event.
New Zealand progressed to this intercontinental playoff stage having cruised past Solomon Islands 8-3 on aggregate in the Oceania final last month.
Hudson said he felt his side were building nicely off the back of the game against Japan, when they only lost in the 88th minute, and their first half against Mexico at the Confederations Cup (which also ended in a 2-1 loss).
"I know for an Oceania team, for New Zealand to go to a World Cup via South America is an incredibly tough task, but the fact now it's Peru I think we've done enough to have belief within the team.
"Against teams like Mexico and even Japan away from home, we've done enough to know we can compete. I feel we're getting stronger and stronger and have been able to consistently select our strongest squad.
"I think I can speak on behalf of the players, we all believe we can do something special here."
South American World Cup qualifiers
Argentina 3 (Lionel Messi 3) Ecuador 1 (Renato Ibarra)
Brazil 3 (Gabriel Jesus 2, Paulinho) Chile 0
Venezuela 1 (Yangel Herrera) Paraguay 0
Uruguay 4 (Luis Suarez 2, Edison Cavani, Martin Caceres) Bolivia 2 (Own goal 2)
Colombia 1 (James Rodriguez) Peru 1 (Paolo Guerrero)
1st - Brazil, 41 points, +30 goal difference
2nd - Uruguay, 31 points, +12 GD
3rd - Argentina, 28 points, +3 GD
4th - Colombia, 27 points, +2 GD
5th - Peru, 26 points, +1 GD
6th - Chile, 26 points, -1 GD
7th - Paraguay, 24 points, -6 GD