NZF confident they can qualify without Nelsen

SAM WORTHINGTON
Last updated 05:00 10/01/2013
Ryan Nelsen
DON SCOTT/Fairfax NZ
END OF AN ERA: As he prepares to end his playing career and take over as Toronto FC head coach, Ryan Nelsen has likely played his last match for the All Whites.

Relevant offers

Football

Home teams struggle in Champs League playoffs Western Sydney step closer to ACL semifinals Italian football boss in hot water with UEFA Mariners, Victory advance to FFA Cup last 16 Big name casualties as Brazil make changes Luis Suarez 'depressed' after biting suspension Teen poised to make Norway debut in friendly Fifa, Russia relations straining over World Cup Ricki Herbert lands role in Indian Super League Suarez, Neymar star in playing return for Barca

A bullish New Zealand Football high performance director Fred de Jong said the All Whites could "absolutely" qualify for another World Cup without Ryan Nelsen.

"It's a tough ask, with or without him," de Jong said.

"In recent times, the All Whites have been better with him in the team than they have without. But we've got reasonable cover at centre back so from a playing perspective I think it's less of an issue. From a leadership perspective, the senior players have to fill that void."

De Jong admitted the timing of Nelsen's decision had come as a shock but he had no complaints about not being kept in the loop.

"It has come around a bit premature but I don't think there's anything untoward in that, he maybe just wanted to get things sorted for himself."

It opens the door for Wellington Phoenix captain Andrew Durante, an Australian defender who qualifies to play for New Zealand in March, subject to Fifa approval.

"Obviously that would be a plus for us," de Jong said.

Ad Feedback

- The Dominion Post

Special offers
Opinion poll

What do you make of Tommy Smith's decision not to play for the All Whites?

It's fair enough. He's already got a massive workload.

He's been a great servant for the All Whites. His request not to play is fine by me.

It's disappointing to say the least. What happened to national pride?

It's unbelievable. He shouldn't be picked for NZ again.

Vote Result

Related story: (See story)

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content