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INDRA PUTRA: Frustrated

TheStar - The nightmare of being totally outclassed by Iran two weeks ago in the opening match of the pre-Olympic Asia Group A football match at the MPPJ Stadium in Kelana Jaya here still haunts national Under-23 midfielder Indra Putra Mahayuddin. 

Malaysia had taken the lead with a 34th minute goal by Mohamad Fadli Saari. But their game fell apart and Iran took a 2-1 lead at half time with goals by Arash Borhani and Mehrzad Madanchi in the 40th and 43rd minute respectively. 

The Iranians went on to win the match 4-1 with a brace by Iman Mobali in the 58th and 70th minutes. 

“At some point during the match, I was thinking to himself how we could have let that (allowing Iran to hit back) happen. We were making one mistake after another.” 

Indra admitted that he could have made things worse for Malaysia if the referee had spotted him elbowing Iranian forward Iman Mobali late in the second half. 

“I was giving my very best that night. It was out of sheer frustration that I reacted in such a manner. I was lucky not to be given a red cad for that foul,” said Indra. 

On the second match against China in Wuhan on Saturday, the influential player is expected to play a similar central midfield role. 

“I have not discussed anything with coach Allan Harris on my responsibilities. But I think I should be playing in a central midfield position again,” said Indra. 

He conceded that it would be an uphill task for the team against China, who were beaten 0-1 by South Korea in their opening match. 

“Winning the match will be very difficult. The only thing we can hope for right now is to perform better than we dis against Iran,” said Indra. 

“Against Iran, I played a more defensive role. If possible, I would like to go more on the attack against China. 

“If we find difficulty breaching the Chinese defence, we will have to make more attempts from long range. 

“I am sure the weather conditions will not be to our favour. I am expecting it to be cold.” 

The national Under-23 team leaves for Wuhan tomorrow. 

They complete their first round fixtures in the group against South Korea at the MPPJ Stadium on March 24. 

The Finals of the Asian Olympic qualifiers are being played in three groups with the winners advancing to the competition in Athens in August.

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