Vicelich hopes Nelsen keeps going

Veteran New Zealand defender Ivan Vicelich says it's a shock to realise that skipper Ryan Nelsen's international career could be coming to an end.

With New Zealand getting to the business end of its bid to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, he's hoping Nelsen can somehow continue playing for his country.

Vicelich, 36, says he was taken aback by the announcement of Nelsen's impending move from English Premier League club Queens Park Rangers to be head coach of Major League Soccer side Toronto FC.

"It is a little bit of a shock - a shock to everyone in the country," he said.

"The guy is a great player, the best player in New Zealand. For the All Whites, there's going to be a hole in there if he retires from the international scene."

Nelsen, 35, is contracted with QPR until the end of the English season and, with the MLS competition beginning in March, he is in negotiations with the London club over a release.

Meanwhile, the All Whites are on the verge of reaching the final stage of qualifying for the World Cup.

A draw at home against New Caledonia in March will be enough to send them into an intercontinental home-and-away tie in November for a place in Brazil.

"I hope he can still play, the country will hope he can still play," Vicelich said.

"We'll just have to wait and see how the days roll out now and see the decision that comes from him."

Vicelich is New Zealand's most capped player with 85 appearances, while Nelsen has racked up 49.

Vicelich said his best memory of their many matches together was the 1-0 victory over Bahrain in Wellington, when New Zealand clinched qualification for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

"We were the first two to hug each other in that chaos," he said.

"That bit of magic was something special."