The New Zealand U-17 football team has begun the 2009 Sanix Cup with a 2-1 loss to hosts Japan in Fukuoka.
Glasgow Rangers academy utility Andrew Milne headed New Zealand in front four minutes after halftime in the 70 minute match, but Japan were level
just a minute later, and found a winner from a corner in the 52nd minute.
New Zealand rallied late but were unable to find an equaliser.
The close result against a match-hardened Japanese side could be seen as a promising start to New Zealand's preparations to the Oceania World U-17 Cup qualifiers in April, but head coach Steve Cain was playing the hard task master, with echoes of his day job as a high school teacher in his calls of "could do better."