Departing All Whites coach Ricki Herbert said the inexperienced side showed wonderful potential in its match against Mexico, and New Zealand football can return to the international stage.
The side's slim World Cup chances finally ended at Wellington's Westpac Stadium on Wednesday night when they were beaten by Mexico 4-2 in the second leg of the qualifier. Last week they lost the first leg 5-1 in Mexico City.
The defeat also spelled the end of coach Ricki Herbert's eight-year tenure with his contract expiring at the end of the World Cup campaign.
Herbert said he left proud of his achievements in taking New Zealand to the 2010 tournament in South Africa.
He said his side simply wasn't strong enough to overcome Mexico but believes the very inexperienced team showed some wonderful potential.
The departing coach said there was a good crop of younger players coming through and New Zealand can be back on the international stage in 2018.
Former All Whites skipper Steve Sumner says the team did incredibly well against Mexico considering their inexperience.
Steve Sumner captained the All Whites during the first campaign to qualify for the World Cup in 1982 and said the team can still hold their heads up high.
He told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme on Thursday the All Whites suffered injury problems to leading players and the warm up games were not enough to help them beat Mexico. "We've always said that this side needs games together, and lots of them, and that showed last night."