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Nelsen impressed by All Whites' energy

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 11/10/2016

Former All Whites skipper Ryan Nelsen says the current crop of Kiwi internationals took the side to another level against Mexico.

The 88th-ranked New Zealand fell 2-1 to El Tri in Nashville but produced an encouraging display and successfully deployed a high-pressing style.

Mexico opened the scoring through a dubious Giovani dos Santos penalty but All Whites winger Marco Rojas levelled the scores soon after the break.

Midfielder Marco Fabian then gave his side the win in the 56th minute.

Nelsen, a former Premier League stalwart with Blackburn Rovers, now resides in Washington DC and visited his former teammates before Tuesday's clash with USA.

He was highly encouraged by the All Whites' display against Mexico after a sluggish Oceania Nations Cup victory in June.

They deserved to get a result from the match and would have an even better chance of victory against USA.

"I thought they pressured the Mexican guys really well high up the field, they turned the ball over many times, the Mexicans," the 38-year-old said.

"They don't normally do that because they're technically very good players so I was really impressed."

Nelsen made 49 appearances at the heart of the Kiwi defence and captained the side to the 2010 World Cup, where they had three draws.

He said the current All Whites squad would need to look for incremental improvement to reach the same stage in Russia.

"It's every day, trying to get better, whether in camp or with your club," Nelsen said.

"Then when that time comes, very soon, it's about trying to perform your best when asked."

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