Emedia - SHORTLY after Iran had made kebab of the Malaysian team in the pre-Olympic clash last night, Allan Harris gave his players a roasting.
The patched-up defence were put in the frying pan for their lack of professionalism in conceding the two goals which allowed Iran not only to comeback from a goal behind, but eventually take the flight back home to Teheran today as leaders of Group A.
The two goals — conceded in a space of five minutes just before the interval — destroyed whatever hopes Malaysia had of earning a decent result to kick off their road to Athens.
Up to that stage, the home side were knocking Iran off their stride.
When left flanker Fadzli Saari found the net in the 34th minute, after reacting quickest to Akmal Rizal Ahmad Rakhli's header which had come off the post, a decent result seemed attainable, until the rearguard, led by Irwan Fadzli Idrus, crumbled in a matter of five minutes. First Arash Borhani tapped in the equaliser after Ali Badavi's initial effort was palmed away by Syamsuri Mustaffa in the 41st minute.
Two minutes later, midfielder Mehrzad Madanchi Ardakano rose unchallenged to head home the second goal off a corner from former Wolves trainee Hossein Kabei.
For Harris, that was the turning point which allowed Iran to move up a gear.
"The mistakes were hard to swallow," he said.
"I thought we had done justice through our first half performance but I was disappointed with the lack of professionalism which resulted in the two goals before half-time.
"Iran to me, did not seem to be a good team in the first half until the two defensive errors allowed them back into the match." Harris' opposite number, Mohammad Mayeli Kohan, commended Malaysia's first half performance.
"I was surprised with the way Malaysia played in the first half. I was quite impressed with their brand of good football, but then they were found wanting physically as the match progressed," he said.
The truth, however, was that Iran, missing skipper Moharram Navidkia's leadership qualities in the middle of the park, were not themselves in the first half.
This allowed Malaysia to sneak into the danger area numerous times.
Twice the home side almost took the lead — when Fadzli sent a shot wide from the top of the box after a cross from R. Surendran in the 11th minute, and when Akmal, captaining the side for the first time at home, shot wide after beating his marker Jalal Kameli Mofrad.
With two goals in the bag, Iran came firing on all cylinders after the breather with the skilful Iman Mobali directing traffic.
Not surprisingly, Mobali made the result beyond doubt with two goals — the first a shot from 30m which was deflected into goal by Aziz Ismail in the 58th minute and the second, off a dubious penalty in the 70th minute after substitute Ahmad Fauzi Saari was adjudged to have fouled Borhani inside the box.
Malaysia: Syamsuri Mustaffa, Ronny Harun, Aziz Ismail, Irwan Fadzli Idrus, M. Ravinthiran, Norhisham Hassan (Ahmad Fauzi Saari), Indra Putra Mahayuddin, K. Rajan, Fadzli Saari, Akmal Rizal Ahmad Rakhli, R. Surendran (Safee Sali).
Iran: Seyed Mahdi Rahmati, Morteza Kashi, Jalal Kameli Mofrad (Morteza Ebrahimi Alisaraei), Mohammad Nosrati, Hossein Kabei, Ali Badavi (Mostafa Mahdizadeh), Morteza Iazadi Zardalou, Mehrzad Madanchi Ardakano, Iman Mobali, Arash Borhani, Javad Kazemeyan.