Peru hasn't qualified for the World Cup since 1982. This is a huge deal.
There are a ton of confusing scenarios complicating the final day of CONMBEBOL World Cup Qualifying, but for Peru, it's rather simple: Beat Colombia and La Blanquirroja will be back in the World Cup for the first time since 1982.
In a nation as soccer-crazed yet World Cup-deprived as Peru has been, this is an absolutely massive deal. So much so that the nation's president, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, has declared a national holiday and issued an official decree for public sector employees to leave work at 4 p.m. Kickoff at Estadio Nacional de Lima is scheduled for 6:30 p.m., giving fans ample time to head to the bars before what's sure to be an ultra stressful couple of hours.
Hoy juega nuestra selección y todos queremos alentar a nuestros muchachos. Decreto medio día laborable para juntos gritar ¡Arriba Perú!— PedroPablo Kuczynski (@ppkamigo) October 10, 2017
Translation: "Our team plays today and we want to urge on (encourage) our men. i declare half a day of work so we can all chant Arriba Peru!"
Hoy todo el Perú con la selección. Trabajadores del sector público podrán alentar a partir de las 4 p.m. a nuestros muchachos. Arriba Perú.— PedroPablo Kuczynski (@ppkamigo) October 10, 2017
Translation: "Today all of Peru is with the team. Workers from the public sector will be able to support our guys from 4 p.m. Arriba Peru!"
Sport has the capacity to unite a nation like few other things can. For two hours, at least, all Peruvians will be united behind a single yet monumental objective: a ticket to Russia. There's no cheering in the press box, but I'm having a hard time not pulling for them.