Thailand made it two wins in a row in a milestone match for Datsakorn Thonglao on Sunday as the veteran playmaker won his 100th cap in a 1-0 friendly win over Kenya at the SCG Stadium.
Teerasil Dangda emerged as the hero of the evening after popping up with a 61st-minute winner, but the game was also about remembering another star of yesteryear in Datsakorn, who started the game as captain after a three-year international absence before coming off to rapturous applause in the 28th minute.
Sentiment aside, Sunday’s game was also significant given a promising performance by the Thais against a side ranked 88th in the FIFA world rankings, 49 places above them.
It was the Kenyans who enjoyed the better of the proceedings early on and first threatened in the 11th minute, when Clifton Miheso’s low drive from the edge of the box forced Kawin Thamsatchanan into a fingertip save.
Datsakorn had his moment to shine seven minutes after the half-hour mark and showed he has not lost any of his dead-ball skills despite entering the twilight of his career, unleashing a 25-yard freekick that had Boniface Oluoch scampering to his near post to keep out.
A minute later, what is likely to be the 33-year-old’s final match in Thailand colours came to a close as he was replaced by Bordin Phala, and it was Kawin – the man whom he passed the armband on to – who continued to keep the hosts in the contest.
Harsh that Datsakorn got taken off after 25mins. He was playing much better than Titiphan https://t.co/jeQP4Q6WLG
— Grant Aitken (@GrantAitken5) October 8, 2017
On this occasion, with seven minutes left in the half, Michael Olunga was next to try his luck with a ferocious long-range attempt that Kawin did brilliantly to keep out.
Nonetheless, the Thais found another gear after the restart and began to push forward with more intent.
Thitiphan Puangchan, one of those looking to follow in Datsakorn’s footsteps as Thailand’s playmaker-in-chief in the coming years, was unlucky not to score in the 61st minute, curling an effort back off the post after being set up by Bordin.
But, just two minutes later, there was to be no denying the War Elephants when Bordin latched onto Siroch Chatthong’s cut-back and drilled a low shot towards goal.
Although his shot was by Oluoch, he was unable to hold on to it and Teerasil was on hand to coolly drag the ball away from the Kenya custodian’s recovery attempt before stroking the winner into the unguarded net.
Photo credit: Football Association of Thailand