Yellow cards incurred by two senior All Whites in last Friday's win over the Solomon Islands could prove costly.
Michael Boxall and Michael McGlinchey were booked during the 6-1 victory in Albany, and are now at risk of missing the second leg of the expected November playoff against the fifth-placed South Americans.
Boxall and McGlinchey are almost certain to sit out Tuesday's match in Honiara but assuming both veterans line up in the first leg in Wellington in November, they will be one booking away from an automatic one-game suspension.
It's due to a controversial Fifa statute, which carries over single cautions throughout an entire qualifying competition, even if that involves intercontinental playoffs.
Fifa allows each confederation one opportunity to clear all yellow cards from players' records during their respective qualifying processes. The Oceania Football Confederation decided to use their amnesty after the 2016 Nations Cup.
There's an argument that OFC should have applied to use their amnesty later in the qualifying process, but such a move would be unlikely to be approved by Fifa's disciplinary council.
The obvious solution is for Fifa to wipe the slate clean ahead of all inter-continental playoffs (the fifth-placed Asian side will also face the fourth-placed North American team in November for a 2018 World Cup place), but the Zurich-based body have yet to adopt that measure.
The upshot is that Boxall and McGlinchey will be walking a tightrope in Wellington, while the rest of their teammates will also need to avoid any unnecessary cautions in Honiara on Tuesday.
It's not the first time this situation has arisen. In 2013, Ricki Herbert's team travelled to the Azteca Stadium for the first leg of their clash with Mexico with 10 players from their squad at risk of suspensions.
In the end, Chris Wood, Ivan Vicelich and Leo Bertos picked up bookings in that 5-1 loss, ruling them out of the return leg in Wellington.
It's a harsh situation. Missing one of the All White's two biggest matches of the past four years would be a massive punishment for an incidental crime but could well be realised. Yellow cards are an almost unavoidable part of the modern game, especially for defensive players.
"It was pretty reckless and I would love to have that back but it is what it is," said Boxall of his booking on Friday. "[But] the rules need to be cleared up. I think each stage, it should be cleared. Obviously you have different ideas but hopefully things change in the near future."
Aside from McGlinchey and Boxall, Liam Graham, Kip Colvey and Clayton Lewis all have single cautions against their names for bookings picked up earlier in the qualifying process. Colvey and Graham are particularly unfortunate, as their cards have been carried for almost a year.
The All Whites fly to Honiara early today, ahead of Tuesday's game (kickoff 3pm NZT).
All Whites' yellow card tightrope
Liam Graham v New Caledonia (H) November 12, 2016
Kip Colvey v New Caledonia (A) November 15, 2016
Clayton Lewis v Fiji (H) March 28, 2017
Michael Boxall v Solomon Islands (H) September 1, 2017
Michael McGlinchey v Solomon Islands (H) September 1, 2017