After an optimistic start to their World Cup campaign, the New Zealand men's under 17 football team have lost 3-1 to Mali this morning, shattering their World Cup ambitions in the process.
The plucky Kiwi side didn’t go down without a fight though with Charles Spragg’s header giving them a fighting chance at 2-1.
But as the Kiwis resorted to more risky gameplay to try and keep their hopes alive, they inevitably were punished by the African champions for pushing too far up the field.
Mali effectively put the game to bed nine minutes from time with one final goal.
While the result puts New Zealand third in group B and rules them out of knockout football, coach Danny Hay refused to take any stick after his team's display at the tournament.
In his post-match interview, the fired-up coach was asked if he was disappointed they were unable to advance like they did for the first time two years ago.
"Why should I be disappointed?" Hay said.
"They actually worked their hearts out – Mali are a very, very good team… I can't fault our boys."
NZ drew with Turkey and lost to Paraguay earlier.