The OlyWhites will be without captain Winston Reid for the rest of the Tokyo Olympics, says manager Danny Hay, after the veteran defender suffered a knee injury in the 3-2 loss to Honduras on Sunday.
Reid, 33, went down in the opening minutes of the OlyWhites' second pool match, as New Zealand squandered a 2-1 lead for their first defeat of the Games.
Speaking post-match, manager Hay says although Reid appears to have been cleared of any long-term injury, the short term should mean the centre back plays no further part in the Tokyo Games.
"We haven't had a definitive prognosis at this stage, but it's not looking like it is too, too bad for him.
"That's obviously the big fear, we want to make sure that he's fine.
"It's not looking like it's going to be a long-term injury at this point, but it still will probably rule him out for the rest of this tournament."
George Stanger replaced Reid in the loss to Honduras, and will likely partner Nando Pijnaker in the centre of defence for New Zealand's third pool match.
Reid's absence comes as another blow to the OlyWhites, who're already without fellow centre back Michael Boxall - who suffered a thigh injury on the eve of the tournament.
The OlyWhites play their final group match against Romania on Wednesday. All four teams in New Zealand's group B have three points after two matches - each having recorded one win and one loss from their opening two matches.
That means should New Zealand beat Romania, the OlyWhites will advance to the quarter-finals regardless of the result between Honduras and South Korea - with both matches played at the same time.