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Puerto Montt: Syria’s hopes of progress to the knockout stage of the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup took another blow on Thursday as the West Asians had to settle for a goalless draw against New Zealand in their penultimate Group F fixture.

Having lost 4-1 to Paraguay in their tournament opener, Syria were desperate to get their first points on the board against a New Zealand side that looked defensively vulnerable after losing 6-1 to France in their campaign curtain raiser.

The Syrians were let off the hook with just three minutes at the Estadio Chinquihue played when Connor Probert struck his early penalty against woodwork, with the Syrians conceding the spot-kick after Wasim Al Nadaf had handled the ball inside the area.

Both sides had their chances in an evenly-contested match, with New Zealand looking particularly dangerous at set pieces, but in the end they had to settle for a share of the spoils that did neither side any favours going into the final round of Group F matches on Sunday, when Syria face a tough task to remain in the competition with the 2014 AFC U-16 Championship semi-finalists needing to beat European champions France to have any chance of progress to the knockout stage.

"I'm not satisfied with the result today, especially because we want to win and we will face France in the last game,” Syria coach Mohamed Al Attar said in the post-match press conference.

“The second half was much better and we created chances, but didn't score today, it was bad luck indeed. The match against France will be tough and we'll make some changes. We will work in the hope of qualifying for the second round.”

Photo: FIFA/Getty Images