Carrillo | “A Generation Making A Difference”
Andrè Carrillo is gearing up for the biggest game of his footballing life this weekend when Peru collide with New Zealand in a World Cup play-off game.
Peru have not qualified for a World Cup in 36 years but Carrillo and his national teammates have a chance to change all that over the course of the next week. The first leg of the playoff is at the sold-out Wellington Regional Stadium on Saturday before the sides meet again on Wednesday night at what is bound to be a jumping national stadium in Lima. History beckons for the excited Watford winger.
“The national team has always been important to me,” said the 32-cap wide man, "especially now we are getting close to the World Cup.
“My country hasn't been at the World Cup for 36 years, so it's very important. It's a huge game. The atmosphere is always incredible as the supporters are always behind us.”
Peru are ranked No.10 in the Fifa rankings so start as overwhelming favourites against a New Zealand in 122nd spot, but the Peruvians have been hit hard by the loss of Paolo Guerrero who is serving a suspension after failing a doping test.
The striker struck six times in qualification as Peru finished fifth behind Brazil, Uruguay, Colombia and Argentina.
“Of course we will be the favourites, but we will have to play at our best,” said Carrillo.
“It's a young team. We believe in each other. It's a generation that's making a difference. It has been a long time that the national team has not been to a World Cup. We are very excited.”
One man roaring on Peru will be Nolberto Solano, his country's most famous player and a real Premier League success story. Carrillo is now treading the same path down Premier League flanks as Solano once did for Newcastle, Aston Villa and West Ham.
“He is my compatriot, he's famous and I've been in touch with him," said Carrillo. "He told me a lot about the Premier League. We speak quite a lot.”
Carrillo is expected back in England a week on Saturday, after spending more than 48 hours on a plane and flying more than 25,000 miles. He insists he will be ready to face West Ham United at Vicarage Road on Sunday.
“I am always tired when I travel but it's not an excuse.” He said.