Teerasal Dangnda bundled home the only goal of the match in the 63rd minute after Boniface Oluoch had parried the ball onto his path. The defeat came hot on the heels of Kenya’s loss four days earlier to Iraq.
Rarely does Kenya play in far different time zones like they did against the Thais but the presence of Michael Olunga plus the week-long acclimatization time ensured they were at no big disadvantage.
Coach Stanley Okumbi made several changes to his starting eleven with Boniface Oluoch keeping goal with his Gor Mahia team-mate Musa Mohammed starting also. Clifton Miheso was also in the line up as Okumbi looked to take the game to the hosts in a bid to finish their Asia tour on a positive note.
Stars settled quicker in the game with John Makwata and Miheso forcing Thailand goalkeeper Charlemong Kardekaew into early saves. But the hosts were quick to respond with attacks of their own with crowd favourite Philip Roller demanding a reaction stop from Oluoch after good combination with Monkol Thosekaria with a quarter of an hour played.
Kenya were getting greater joy on the left flank, where Miheso, Kenneth Muguna and Aboud Omar constantly caused trouble for the host but there was no product to their efforts.
The Thais took control of the match for the for the rest of the first half with the pressure telling as Musa Mohammed was yellow carded for illegally ending a Thai move by bringing down Sunya Sungmul.
Veteran midfielder Datsakom Thonglao who was earning his 100th international cap then made way for Bordin Phalo as the Thais ended the half with the upper hand. The hosts carried that momentum into the second half, putting the Kenyans under immense pressure as Oluoch was time and again called into action. But it was Kenya who nearly took the lead as Masoud Juma left Supot Jodjam for dead only to see his effort on goal canon off the crossbar in the 50th minute.
It was to be the last period of joy for Kenya as 13 minutes later, Thailand took the lead when Teerasal scored after Rollers effort had been saved by Oluoch.
The goal sparked Thailand into life and they sought a killer second, forcing Teddy Akumu to concede possession only to be bailed out by another Oluoch save. Stars return home tomorrow.
-The Star| Fred Arocho