Out with a bang: Young NZ side depart U17 FIFA World Cup with well-worked header

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NZN

New Zealand has failed to survive the group stage of the Under-17 World Cup in India, bowing out with a 3-1 loss to Mali.

The Kiwis needed a win to progress through the competition after drawing 1-1 with Turkey and losing 4-2 to Paraguay in their two other matches.

Yet despite the return of captain Max Mata from suspension, the New Zealand side again found themselves behind early, with Mali's Salam Jiddou scoring a long-range stunner in the 18th minute.

The African champions capitalised on their dominant possession - restricting New Zealand to threats from set pieces - before extending their lead early in the second half, thanks to another top-notch goal from Djemoussa Traore.

Charles Spragg later gave the Kiwis a glimmer of hope, calmly heading in a well-placed cross from Elijah Just in the 72nd minute.

But the comeback was not to be, with Mali's Lassana Ndiaye cementing his side's win with a late strike.

The loss sent the Kiwis packing and Mali through the knockout stage, along with group winners Paraguay.

New Zealand U-17 coach Danny Hay put a positive spin on the outcome.

"We were in a very, very tough group and were more than aware of that," Hay said following the loss.

"We played against three very good sides and our attitude, application and the quality of football was at times I think better than it ever has been from a New Zealand U-17 side."

He was also full of praise for the Mali side.

"You can see the quality there, and they're going to go a long way because they're a very good side," he said.

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