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Ryan Nelsen is to captain the NZ Oly Whites

posted 25 Apr 2012, 13:58 by Sportech Nz   [ updated 26 Apr 2012, 15:09 ]
Tottenham Hotspur's Ryan Nelsen is to captain the New Zealand men's football team at the London 2012 Olympic Games, with Wolfsburg's Rebecca Smith leading the women's team.

Nelsen will be one of three over 23-year-olds New Zealand is allowed to take to London following the announcement of a group of athletes whose selection was confirmed today, with 100 days to go until the start of the Olympic and Paralympics this summer.

"The experience of Ryan Nelsen, along with two other overage players, in a squad containing at least five other current All Whites means the men will be able to field an exciting young line up of players now earning a living in leagues around the world," said New Zealand Football chief executive Grant McKavanagh.

Ideally those two players will be Perth Glory forward Shane Smeltz and West Ham United defender Winston Reid, said Neil Emblen, the New Zealand men's coach.

Rebecca Smith, another defender playing in Europe, was nominated for the women's FIFA World Player of the Year award in 2007 and picked up the prize for the best player in New Zealand in the same year.

She captained the country at their second and third World Cup appearances, in China four years' ago and in Germany last year.

The women qualified recently with a resounding 15-0 playoff victory over Papua New Guinea, and unlike the men do not have to worry about age restrictions.