Soccer

These two World Cup teams will play March tuneup in Miami

Peru's Christian Ramos (right) celebrates with teammate Alberto Rodriguez (center) after scoring his team’s second goal against New Zealand during a play-off qualifying match for the 2018 Russia World Cup in Lima, Peru, Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017. Peru won the match 2-0 and qualified for the World Cup for the first time in 36 years.
Peru's Christian Ramos (right) celebrates with teammate Alberto Rodriguez (center) after scoring his team’s second goal against New Zealand during a play-off qualifying match for the 2018 Russia World Cup in Lima, Peru, Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017. Peru won the match 2-0 and qualified for the World Cup for the first time in 36 years. AP

South Florida soccer fans will get a taste of the 2018 World Cup when Peru plays Croatia on March 23 at Hard Rock Stadium in a tune-up for the World Cup in Russia.

Peru, No. 11 in the latest FIFA world rankings, qualified for the World Cup for the first time since 1982 by going undefeated in its last eight World Cup Qualifying matches and then beating New Zealand 2-0 on aggregate in an intercontinental playoff. Peru will compete in Group C against France, Australia and Denmark.

Peru Coach Ricardo Gareca said, “Croatia is a very competitive team full of skilled players. Our team worked very hard to qualify for the World Cup. I am sure our fans will travel from Peru and across the United States to support us in Miami during one of the few preparation matches that remain before our trip to Russia for the World Cup. It will be exciting to play on a big stage at Hard Rock Stadium.”

Croatia, ranked No. 17, advanced to the World Cup after defeating Greece 4-1 on aggregate across the two legs of their qualifying play-off in November. It is the fifth time Croatia has qualified for the World Cup, previously qualifying in 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2014, with a third-place finish in 1998.

Croatia will compete in Group D along with Argentina, Iceland and Nigeria. Croatia’s roster includes Luka Modrić (Real Madrid), Ivan Rakitić (Barcelona) and Mario Mandžukić (Juventus).

Croatian coach Zlatko Dalić said: “This is an exciting opportunity to play Peru in Miami. The Peru style of play will be a strong test as we prepare to compete in the World Cup against opponents including Argentina. We have heard about Hard Rock Stadium and expect the atmosphere to be very exciting. This will be a very competitive match.”

Presale registration begins Wednesday Jan. 3 on HardRockStadium.com and those fans will be able to purchase tickets on the Jan. 9 presale. Tickets for the general public go on sale Jan. 10, starting at $40, on the stadium website or ticketmaster.com

Peru vs. Croatia

What: 2018 World Cup preparation match

Where: Hard Rock Stadium

When: March 23, 8 p.m.

Tickets: Presale registration begins Jan. 3 on HardRockStadium.com with presale Jan. 9 and general public sale Jan. 20, starting at $40.

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