Chris Wood believes the best is yet to come from the Oly Whites at the Tokyo Olympics, after their historic passage to the knockout stages.
They became the first men's team from New Zealand to reach the last eight at a Games, after a tense 0-0 draw with Romania on Wednesday night.
Ahead of this tournament there was a sense that this was a special group, which was confirmed after their first-up victory over South Korea.
But they proved that was no flash in the pan, with a dominant performance against Romania, bouncing back after the unfortunate 3-2 defeat to Honduras.
There were more difficult groups at this Olympics – with Australia undoubtedly stuck in the "group of death" – but New Zealand's achievement is still remarkable.
They finished ahead of the fourth-best European team and the second-best side from North and Central America. They could have even topped their group, but for some bizarre passages against Honduras.
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The accomplishment isn't lost on Wood, who has been on the international scene for 15 years.
"Getting to the quarter-finals is fantastic," said the 29-year-old. "It's a great achievement for us as a team and a country. We're very proud."
But there is no sense of mission accomplished, that they are content just to be in the latter stages.
"Playing with this team is something special and something different," said Wood. "No New Zealand team has played football the way these guys can, and if they keep believing the way I know they can, they can play even better football. It's a team full of potential."
They'll face host nation Japan (Saturday 9pm), who have been imperious so far, topping Group A with a 100 per cent record, including a 4-0 demolition of France.
They are a daunting opponent, with pace, supreme organisation and precise passing, but the Oly Whites don't seem overawed.
"We've got to keep the same desire that we've had, especially in the first game and the third game," said Wood. "We know we need to be resilient, strong, tough and then let our football come through. Ultimately the fundamentals have to be there - hard working and strong - and let our football do the talking after that."
Wednesday's night result was some redemption for goalkeeper Michael Woud. He had a couple of nightmare moments against Honduras – screened across the nation on free to air television – but showed his fortitude, with three crucial saves against Romania.
"Michael was outstanding," said coach Danny Hay. "One game does not define a player; it does not define a player's career and we're all aware Michael is a goalkeeper of huge potential. Yes, he made some mistakes against Honduras but he has showed what level of resilience he's got."
It was an impressive all-round performance from the Oly Whites, exhibiting focus, flair and finesse. They knew they couldn't afford to concede – in what was always going to be a tight match – but never wavered with their attacking intent.
Joe Bell was immense, always where he needed to be, with and without the ball. Central defenders Gianni Stensness and Nando Pijanker belied their tender years with mature displays, while Elijah Just continues to impress and Wood led the line well.
But it was a full squad effort, shown by the quartet who made their first start of the tournament all making an impact.
"It's easy to forget that this group hasn't had any time together due to Covid," said Hay.
"We've had a long hiatus and we're getting better with each match."