The All Whites have lost 2-1 to Kenya in their first game at football's four-nation Intercontinental Cup tournament in India.
Despite dominating for significant periods and taking the lead late in the first half, New Zealand were left to rue a clutch of missed chances as the 111th-ranked Africans claimed all three points.
After a cagey opening in steady rain on a bumpy surface, the All Whites slowly gained control and produced a flurry of opportunities with debutant defender Nikko Boxall, Alex Rufer, Matthew Ridenton and Sarpreet Singh all spurning chances to open the scoring.
At the other end, All Whites goalkeeper Max Crocombe was practically unemployed, although New Zealand survived a scare in the 37th minute when Kenyan left-back Erick Otieno outmuscled Dane Ingham before fizzing a shot against the crossbar from a narrow angle.
When the opener eventually arrived after 42 minutes, it was worth waiting for. Singh drifted in from the left to collect the ball on the edge of the penalty area before curling a precise left-footed effort past stranded Kenyan goalkeeper Patrick Matasi to notch his first international goal.
It was Singh who provided most of New Zealand's brightest moments. Handed a starting debut by new All Whites coach Fritz Schmid, the Wellington Phoenix teenager was his side's best player, particularly in the first half.
Just when it seemed New Zealand would take a 1-0 advantage into the break, Ridenton conceded a questionable free-kick on the edge of the penalty area which Clifton Miheso dispatched expertly into the top right-hand corner past the despairing dive of Crocombe.
With six substitutes allowed, Schmid rang the changes early in the second half, including more international debuts for defender Justin Gulley and rangy front-man Noah Billingsley. Crocombe spared Gulley's blushes, producing a sharp reflex save after his muffed clearance appeared destined for the back of his own net.
In increasingly difficult second-half conditions, Kenya scored the decisive goal with quarter of the match remaining. Billingsley gave up possession in the centre-circle, allowing Patilah Omoto to thread a pass into the path of Ovella Ochieng who poked it past the advancing Crocombe.
New Zealand next meet Chinese Taipei on Wednesday morning (NZT).
At a glance:
New Zealand 1 (Singh 42)
Kenya 2 (Miheso 45+2, Ochieng 68)
New Zealand side: Crocombe, D.Ingham (Gulley), Mitchell, Boxall, Doyle (c), Payne (Hudson-Wihongi), Howieson, Rufer (Bevan), Ridenton (Billingsley), Singh, J.Ingham (Cameron).