ON THE EDGE

New Zealand came into the FIFA World Cup 2010 with an expectation that they would be the whipping boys, but they finished the tournament as the only team not to have suffered a defeat. Even the eventual champions Spain suffered a defeat over the course of the tournament. Much of the success was attributed to the three defenders at the back formation for New Zealand. National team coach Ricki Herbert, though, is willing to try out a few things before his team reaches the 2014 World Cup. New Zealand are extremely close to reaching the second consecutive World Cup.

The only have to negotiate a play-off match from a team in the CONCAF region and it is likely to be Mexico. Ahead of the match with Saudi Arabia in the OSN Cup, Herbert said that he wants to switch to a defensive four formation. This could see only Tommy Smith and Winston Reid as the centre backs, while Tony Lochhead will be playing at left back. It is expected that either Leo Bertos or Ben Sigmund will be picked to play in the right back position. Speaking ahead of this match, Herbert said that he wants New Zealand to be ready for any possible situation. He is willing to try out a few things in this match.

“We’re going to try a whole raft of things and see how it goes. Some might work, some might not. Siggy played at right back against China [last year] and he did a good job. Leo could play fullback but Tony will probably play left back, with Winston, Tommy and Glen Moss in goal. It’s going to be incredibly demanding. But it’s more about, are players comfortable in their roles, do we feel we’ve got the right sort of connections, the right sort of links?” said Herbert.

PASTON RETIRES

The former Wellington Phoenix goalie, Mark Paston, has announced his retirement from international football.

Paston had quit club football in March this year. At that time, he had said that he might continue playing international football. But, after assessing his condition in the last few months, he decided to quit football completely.

Talking to the reporters while announcing his retirement, Paston said, “I have enjoyed my time away from football in the last few months and I think this is the right time for me to hang the boots.”

“I am excited about my future life. I will be doing something new and I want to have my focus on that.”

“I want to thank my fans for giving me tremendous support over the years. I also want to wish my teammates best of luck for the remaining World Cup qualifying matches. We have a very good chance to make it to the World Cup finals for the second time in a row.”

Meanwhile, the manager of the New Zealand team Ricki Herbert has hailed Paston for being a great servant of New Zealand football.

Herbert said, “Mark was one of the most passionate footballers I have ever worked with. He was a manager’s delight.”

“His contribution in the 2010 World Cup campaign was immense. The saves that he had made in both the qualifying games against Bahrain were fantastic.”

“Obviously, losing him at this point of time is a big blow for us. He was one of the most experienced guys in the team and we needed him for the rest of our qualifying campaign. But, he thought that the time had come for him to move on and we should respect his decision.”

Paston made a total of 36 appearances for the New Zealand team.

NELSEN SETTLES IN

Ryan Nelsen has slowly begun to settle down at Toronto FC. The former New Zealand international was appointed as the head coach of Toronto FC in January this year. The club officials had huge expectations from him, but, Nelsen couldn’t live up to those expectations in the first few matches.

Toronto FC managed to secure just one victory in its first 12 MLS matches this season. Nelsen had to face a lot of criticism for that and there were talks about his sacking.

But, in the last 3 weeks or so, Toronto FC has shown improvement in its performance. The team has secured 5 points in the last 3 games with a win over DC United and has moved up one position in the Eastern Conference Points table. They are still at no. 9 though.

When asked about his team’s performance in the season so far, Nelsen said, “We were not up to the mark in the first few games, but, in the last couple of weeks, we have had some positive results and that has raised the confidence level of the team.”

“I don’t think we have played that badly. If you see the results, we have lost most of the matches just by one goal. No team has really been able to thrash us, but, it’s the points which matter and we haven’t got enough of them.”

Nelsen also admitted that the arrival of Steven Caldwell from Birmingham City on loan has strengthened the defense of his team.

Nelsen said, “Steven is highly experienced and his arrival has certainly made our defense strong. He has so far shown good form and we are hoping that he will continue in the same manner in the rest of the season as well.”

NELSEN STARTS MANAGERIAL ROLE

The Toronto FC manager Ryan Nelsen will have to do without the services of the German midfielder Tortsen Frings after the veteran announced his retirement. The 36-year-old is currently the star player within the Toronto FC squad, while he is also the highest earner as well. Since joining the club in 2011, he has been one of the influential members over the last few years. However, he has announced his retirement just as Nelsen arrives at the club. The former QPR defender recently took over his first managerial job of his career. He lost in his first friendly match as the Toronto FC manager.

Nelsen will be taking charge of his first game in the MLS when Toronto FC take on Vancouver Whitecaps during the weekend. Even though the departure of Frings means that Nelsen will have a significant wage budget available for him to spend on a high profile player, the departure of one of the established players within the team is certainly a cause for concern. The 36-year-old Frings has been suffering from a number of injury problems in recent years. He has revealed in a statement that he has taken this decision with the best for the team in mind. He has paid tribute to his time with the MLS team.

“I always want to do what’s best for the team and that is why I have decided to step away. I really enjoyed my time in Toronto and playing for Toronto FC. I wish the club all the best this season and hopefully they can continue to embrace the winning spirit that I brought to the team,” said the midfielder. Over the years, he had represented top German clubs like Werder Bremen, Bayern Munich, and Borussia Dortmund. He has also played 79 matches for the national team as well.

NELSEN WANTS WIN

The QPR defender Ryan Nelsen has said that he is extremely desperate for the club to get their first win of the season. The Premier league club are still searching for their first victory of the season after 16 games. The arrival of the former Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp has also not brought the club their first victory, which has left them rooted to the bottom of the table. They are also 8 points behind the prospect of safety, and they are getting adrift with each passing game without a victory. Due to this reason, Nelsen has said that he is desperate for the first win, which he believes will get the club going again.

QPR managed to survive in the Premier league last season by the skin of their teeth. The then-manager Mark Hughes splashed a lot of money on signings like Park Ji sung and Granero in the hope of getting the club into the top half of the season and also quite possibly into Europe. However, the club’s struggles have not ended into the new season as well, which led to the sacking of the manager Mark Hughes just a few weeks ago. The former Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp has been appointed in his place, but he still has been unable to get the first victory after three matches in charge.

“We want to win. It’s horrible, it feels like a slap in the face and you do anything to find a formula. We are one or two wins away from being right back in that pack. If we get to the teams, they will start looking over their shoulder at us,” said the New Zealand defender Ryan Nelsen in an interview given to the Sun. The first-team matches for Redknapp against Sunderland, Wigan, and Aston Villa have finished as draws.

NELSEN BLOW

The New Zealand national team has been dealt a major blow after the defender and captain Ryan Nelsen has been ruled out of the friendly match with China this week. New Zealand were set to take on China in a friendly match this week looking to improve the team even further. It has been a good couple of months for the national team after they have recently gone unbeaten since the start of the season. New Zealand are currently unbeaten in the last five matches, while they have also won all these matches as well. However, the match against China for set to be a major test for the team before they take on New Caledonia when the World Cup qualifying resumes in March.

New Zealand Football’s blow in the form of Ryan Nelsen has been confirmed by the high performance manager Fred de Jong, who has said that the medical staff will be taking on the precautions necessary in order to get the QPR defender back to full fitness. The 35-year-old is regarded as one of the best players for New Zealand of all time. As a result, he will be extremely crucial for the team when the World Cup qualifying matches resume in March. Fred de Jong has said that the team will be looking to bring the defender at least in November if not in March.

“Ryan Nelsen is a key asset to our campaign to qualify for the World Cup in Brazil. Ryan is 35 years old and we want to do all we can to make sure he is fit to play in our World Cup qualifiers in March and again in November next year if necessary,” said the high performance manager Fred de Jong. New Zealand are expected to be the first team to qualify from the oceanic region.