Ryan Nelsen is pointing to an evolutionary test for the All Whites over the next seven months - and possibly, life without him.
While recovering from June's shock Nations Cup loss to New Caledonia with an important 2-0 World Cup qualifying win over the same side in Noumea on Friday, Tuesday poses the All Whites with another fundamental stepping stone, when they face the Solomon Islands at North Harbour Stadium.
It's the second in a series of six regional qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup, and with the potential for at least three players, including himself, to call retirement, Nelsen says it's important this squad defines themselves from the class of 2010.
“I think it's too early to tell where this team is in terms of form. I'm not a fan of comparing teams either, in this case to that of the 2010 World Cup. Sides have to figure out their own DNA and that's what this squad has to do,” Nelsen said yesterday.
“During these next five games I think we'll see a certain evolution of the team of how it's going to look.
“Come World Cup time, if we get that far, the likes of Ivan [Vicelich], myself and Mark [Paston] are getting to the latter stages of our careers, so it might all be different again.
“I don't really know what I'm doing next week, let alone in 2014.”
Nelsen says the Solomon Islands must be taken just as seriously as New Caledonia.
“We'll approach the game against the Solomon Islands very seriously. It's a recipe for disaster if you don't take them seriously.”
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