The Junior All Whites opened their FIFA U20 World Cup campaign with a 3-0 defeat against Uzbekistan in Bursa, Turkey this morning.
Both teams were looking for their first ever win in the tournament and Coach Chris Milicich named a strong starting line-up looking to repeat New Zealand's last victory against Uzbekistan, where they ran out 4-1 winners in the FIFA U17 World Cup in 2011.
It was Uzbekistan who started the brightest and fired an early warning to the Junior All Whites, having the ball in the net in the fourth minute with only a handball saving New Zealand.
It was a mistake by keeper Max Crocombe in the 14th minute that led to the first goal for Uzbekistan. A routine clearance was hit straight to Uzbekistan forward Igor Sergeev. His shot was well saved but Abbosbek Makhstaliev was following up and slotted into an empty net.
It wasn't the start the Junior All Whites were looking for and Uzbekistan took confidence from the goal, dominating the ball and carving out several chances. They almost grabbed a second goal just before half time when a long ball over the top found Sergeev whose instinctive volley came back off the post.
Crocombe was to redeem himself for the opening goal seconds later with two great saves to keep the Junior All Whites in the game at half time.
Eight minutes after the break and Uzbekistan doubled their lead. Makhstaliev and Sergeev were a constant threat to the New Zealand back line and it was the same pair that combined again for the second goal. Makhstaliev clipped a great ball past the defence for Sergeev to run onto and drill the ball home at the near post.
Uzbekistan added a third moments later after a shot from Diyorjon Turapov was deflected off Tim Payne to loop over Crocombe.
New Zealand's next game is against Uruguay on June 26 with their final group game against Croatia on June 29.