SINGAPORE - The Republic began qualification for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under-16 Championship on a losing note on Wednesday evening after V. Selvaraj's team were outclassed by Thailand 5-0.
Under the floodlights of Jalan Besar Stadium, the Republic's Under-15 side started the Group H game well with neat passing patterns but the hosts' resistance faded quickly as the Thais started to dominate possession and displayed superior individual skill and strength.
Selvaraj conceded: "We did not have that killer instinct in front of the goal, but the Thais have it. The Thais are physically and technically better.
"We conceded three early goals and there was a mountain to climb after that."
Thailand took the lead in the 17th minute when left winger Korawich Tasa fired a shot from the edge of the box past goalkeeper Kevin Wong. Ten minutes later, striker Jinnawat Russamee sprinted into the box to slam home a powerful drive.
And Jinnawat struck again just before the interval when he hammered in a rebound after goalkeeper Kevin had parried a Tharadon Sornyoha shot.
Korawich completed his hat-trick thanks to strikes in the 59th and 72nd minutes.
In Wednesday's other Group H game, North Korea thrashed Cambodia 7-0.
Singapore will play the Koreans, who are the defending AFC U-16 champions, on Friday while the Thais will meet Cambodia.