The New Zealand U-17 men have been edged 1-0 by the Thailand U-18 men’s side at the Panda Cup in Chengdu, China.
The José Figueira coached team were looking to finish the tournament on a high note after being beaten 4-0 by the eventual winners the Korea Republic two days earlier.
But the Thai side, who finished the tournament strongly with two wins in their final two games to finish runners-up, took the initiative early and held on valiantly against New Zealand who went down to 10-men in the 49th minute.
Thailand’s Achitpol Keereerom scored in the second minute of the game to finish second on the goal-scoring stakes with two goals.
Figueira said it was a tough result to finish on after such a promising start with a 2-0 win over China PR.
“Tough one to swallow [tonight],” he said. “The players showed so much determination, heart and personality with the ball from the start to end. Playing with 10-men for final 40 minutes is always tough but they never stopped and could’ve got something from the game. This tournament has been a great experience.”
In the later game, Hwang Jaehwan’s hat-trick helped the Korea Republic defeat the hosts China 3-0 in their final game. Korea went through the tournament undefeated to finish with nine points and a goal difference of +8.
The New Zealand team, a year younger than their opponents at the event, will take plenty of lessons from the Panda Cup as they get ready for the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Brazil later this year.
Thailand U-18s 1 (Achitpol Keereerom 2’)
New Zealand U-17s 0
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