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Harambee Stars lose to Thailand in Bangkok

Harambee Stars players line up before facing Thailand in a friendly match in Bangkok on October 8, 2017. PHOTO/FKF

NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 8- Teerasil Dangda’s 62nd minute goal earned 137th ranked Thailand a 1-0 win over Kenya in Bangkok as the Harambee Stars wound up their Asian tour of friendly matches with an empty basket having lost 2-1 to Iraq on Thursday in Basra.

The twin losses will now almost guarantee Kenya a drop in FIFA rankings over the next release, having already dropped eight places in the last rankings released on September 14.

This is the third loss for Stanley Okumbi’s men over the last four matches. They lost 2-1 to Sierra Leone in an African Cup of Nations qualifier, drew 1-1 with Mozambique in a friendly, then lost to Iraq and now the Thais, nicknamed The War Elephants.

Stars had a much better performance compared to last Thursday’s match against Iraq, and this was attributed to several changes that First Coach Stanley Okumbi made. However, they dipped in energy in the second half.

Boniface Oluoch started in between the sticks ahead of Patrick Matasi while Musa Mohammed who came on as a second half substituted against Iraq started in central defense, partnering his former mate at Gor Mahia David Owino.

The change saw Jockins Atudo move to the right side of defense. Clifton Miheso, John Mark Makwatta and Masud Juma all who came off as second half substitutes against Iraq started with Samuel Onyango and Jesse Were started on the bench while Ernest Wendo sat out injured.

Muguna starts-

Harambee Stars players line up before their match against Thailand in Bangkok on October 8, 2017. PHOTO/FKF

In Wendo’s place, his Gor Mahia teammate Kenneth Muguna started, partnering teddy Akumu in the middle of the pack.

It was the two Buildcon FC players who had Kenya’s first two efforts at goal. In the 10th minute, Makwatta found shooting space inside the box after some fancy step-overs created him space, but his eventual shot from the right went wide.

A minute later, Miheso drifted to the edge of the box from the right and unleashed a low shot on his weaker left foot but Thailand keeper Kawin Thamsatchanan made a full stretch save to turn the ball behind for a corner.

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Thamsatchanan was at hand to deny Kenya again, this time doing well to hold firmly to a shot from range by Makwatta.

Thailand, just like Iraq on Thursday were playing short swift passes, but different was that the Kenyan defense was more astute.

The Thais however found some space in the 16th minute when Mongkol Tossakrai shot wide from the left after a dummy left skipper Owino on the ground having picked up a defense splitting through pass from Teerasil Dangda.

Michael Olunga who had for most parts of the opening minutes remained silent started being more prominent and he had two chances back to back in the 19th minute, first with a curling freekick from the edge of the box which went straight to the keeper.

A minute later, he rose up well at the edge of the six yard box to meet up a Jockins Atudo cross but his glancing header bounced wide off target.

Olunga shot-

Harambee Stars forward Michael Olunga in action against Thailand. PHOTO/FKF

Again in the 38th minute, he had a better chance on his favorite left foot after slamming a shot from distance, but the Thai keeper made a superb reflex save to tip the ball over.

The hosts came close to breaking the deadlock at the stroke of halftime but Boniface Oluoch made a decisive save to deny substitute Bodin Phala one on one after he had been put through by Dangda.

Thailand stepped up attacks in the second half and Phala tested Oluoch with a shot from distance which the Kenyan keeper collected cleanly.

On the hour mark, Oluoch was once again called into another save, this time fully stretching to push the ball against the upright from a Thitipan Puangchan shot from distance after Kenya had lost the ball cheaply.

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-Dangda goal-

Harambee Stars Musa Mohammed in action against Thailand. PHOTO/FKF

The Kenyan shot stopper was collecting the ball from his net two minutes later when he spilled a shot from Phala and Dangda was well placed to pick up the rebound, tapping it cleanly into the net.

The goal prompted Okumbi into his first change, bringing off Masud for Jesse Were.

Thailand remained offensive and Siroch Chatthong came close with a header in the 71st minute from a Dangda cross but it went straight to Oluoch.

Okumbi made further changes bringing out Makwatta and Akumu for KPL top scorer Stephen Waru and Kariobangi Sharks midfielder Patillah Omotto respectively. With three minutes remaining, Miheso was also hauled off for Samuel Onyango.

However, Stars could not get to plant the ball into the net despite concerted efforts to open up the Thailand defense.

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