The New Zealand women's football team fell to their second straight one-goal defeat at the Yongchuan International Women's Invitational Tournament in China when they were beaten 1-0 by Korea DPR last night (NZT).
The loss, thanks to a goal in the 43rd minute, is just the second time the Football Ferns have recorded back-to-back defeats in 14 games dating back to the London Olympics in July 2012. they were also beaten by China 1-0 in their opening game at the tournament.
"In many respects, it was similar to the first game,'' coach Tony Readings said. "We controlled possession and dictated play without converting that pressure into goals.
"We created a few more chances this time but were unable to put them away and we got caught on a sucker punch when we gave the ball away in our defensive third and weren't able to regroup in time.''
New Zealand will round out their tournament against Mexico on Saturday night (NZT) and Readings said they will continue to pursue their goal of playing possession-based football, despite the two defeats.
"The players are frustrated. They know they've been the better team in both games but have come out on the wrong end of the result. But we've got our objectives and we want to keep developing our attacking play.
"We're looking at the bigger picture, which is heading towards the Olympics in Rio in 2016, so we'll just take the great learnings from this game and move forwards.''
The result was a dramatic improvement on the last time New Zealand played North Korea - they went down 11-0 in Brisbane in 2004.
"The team have developed a massive amount since then,'' Readings said. ``If you look at the performance today, we can be dominant against a top-10 side in the world and, if you go back to 2004, we would have struggled to keep the ball and we would have been hanging on. That shows how far this team has come.''
Several individual milestones were reached on Thursday as defender Abby Erceg became the most-capped senior international women's player in New Zealand history, playing in her 91st A international match, moving one ahead of Hayley Bowden. Striker Hannah Wilkinson earned her 50th senior cap.