The New Zealand Under 21 Men have suffered a disappointing 4-1 defeat at the hands of Japan at the Sultan of Johor Cup in Malaysia.

Two penalty corners from Koji Yamasaki in the 19th and 25th minutes along with a Kyohei Ogawa field goal set Japan on course for victory with a 3-0 lead at halftime.

Japan controlled much of the match as New Zealand's midfield struggled which led to just two chances in the attacking circle during the first half.

The Kiwis were much more composed in the second half but Japans resilient defence ensured scoring opportunities remained sparse.

New Zealand eventually lit up the scoreboard after Oliver Logan converted a late penalty corner, while Japan scored again in the dying minutes.

Head coach Bryce Collins said it was a disappointing result from his side.

"After yesterdays defeat to Pakistan I expected a win today. There were some positives though in the way we tried to comeback in the second half," he said.

"I cant deny that Japan played better but we'll take a valuable lesson from this in the build up towards the Junior World Cup."

New Zealand now face another difficult prospect against trans-Tasman rivals Australia at 11:00pm tomorrow night (NZ time).

- This story has been automatically published using a media release from Hockey NZ