The Vantage Black Sticks Men have missed out on making the semi-finals after being beaten 2-0 by Belgium at the Hockey World League in Johannesburg.
Rio Olympic silver medalists Belgium made a fast start to the match and set the tone with two field goals in the first five minutes.
Sebastien Dockier opened the scoring in the third minute before Tom Boon doubled the lead just two minutes later after slipping a shot through goalkeeper Richard Joyce’s legs.
The Black Sticks lifted after the goals and played with much more structure but struggled to find holes in Belgium’s defence.
The result now sees Belgium go through to the semi-finals while New Zealand face Egypt in a 5th/8th classification playoff at 10:15pm on Friday night (NZT).
While the Kiwis have failed to qualify for the Hockey World League Final in India, they can still book a spot at the 2018 Hockey World Cup by winning their next two games and finishing fifth at the tournament.
Head coach Darren Smith said it was a tough challenge against the world number five ranked side.
“We had a tough start conceding two early goals but I thought we responded pretty well, especially on defence,” he said.
“Belgium are a great side full of skill and ability but we still manged to create chances and had we been able to put some of those into the net it might have been a different story.
“We’re disappointed not to make the semi-finals but will focus now on our next game against Egypt and coming away with a result.”
The semi-finals fixtures see Belgium go up against Australia and Spain take on Germany for a chance to play in the gold medal match.