A considerably improved performance by the New Zealand Under-17 team will not be enough to see them progress to the next round of the FIFA World Cup in Chile.
New Zealand has been held to a 0-0 draw by Syria, despite creating several chances to score.
The most telling moment of the match occurred in the second minute when New Zealand won a penalty. Connor Probert drove the ball low-left, but hit the post, squandering the Kiwis best chance.
It would be harsh to attribute sole blame to Probert’s miss as the biggest reason why New Zealand shared honours in this game. There was a catalogue of opportunities that went begging.
In the 24th minute striker Logan Rogerson sent an uncontested header wide of the target. The same player pushed a shot across the face of goal in the 44th minute and glanced a header over the bar in the 71st minute.
Earlier in the 39th minute Hunter Ashworth wriggled in between two defenders and rushed towards goal, only to shoot weakly.
In the first-half New Zealand outshot Syria 4-1 in a game that struggled to soar to great heights.
Syria played with greater urgency in the second period and caused some moments of consternation for New Zealand.
Keeper Michael Woud was forced into diving saves in the 49th and 52nd minutes following strong shots by substitute striker Mohamad Al Hallak.
In the 61st minute Woud produced his best effort leaping into the air, with both feet off the ground, to fist away a spiralling volley from Mhd Zid Gharir.
New Zealand continued to press, but was unable to gain a breakthrough. In the 57th minute Lucas Emery breezed past two defenders and passed to Liam Williams who shot limply on goal.
Sean Skeens was a hive of activity when he came onto the field, dashing up the left flank.
He found himself unmarked, in the box, in the 77th minute, but again the finish was poor.
In the end Syria narrowly won possession 51% to 49% and outshot New Zealand 11-10, but the Young All Whites will rue their missed chances which were more obvious than anything Syria created.
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