The All Whites striker Shane Smeltz says overcoming the loss of Ryan Nelsen won't be easy.
The New Zealanders are preparing to take on New Caledonia in Dunedin on Friday night with a win moving them onto the next stage of World Cup qualification.
Nelsen has retired from the game and is now managing in Canada.
Smeltz says he'd hoped Nelsen would lead the All Whites to another World Cup, so his decision means the rest of the senior players have to stand up and take on the extra responsibility.
Smeltz says it's an advantage that coach Ricki Herbert has left the Phoenix as he can now pour all his energy into the All Whites.
Meanwhile, Tony Lochhead's been ruled out of the New Caledonia game with a leg fracture suffered in the Wellington Phoenix's win at Perth Glory on Sunday.