Failure to reach for the water bottle costs Lai's men dearly Hong Kong paid for cutting corners in their preparation as they slumped to a 4-0 World Cup qualifying defeat to Kuwait after failing to follow one of the most basic concepts of sports science. With night-time temperatures in the Peace and Friendship Stadium still hovering close to 40 degrees Celsius, the SAR's stars forgot to keep their fluid levels up in the opening 20 minutes of the match and wilted in the desert heat, conceding three first-half goals, one of their worst setbacks since the 'rebirth' of the national team in 2003. Although all had an element of bad luck, all three strikes bouncing off the woodwork in the home team's favour, there was little doubt in the Kuwait camp that Hong Kong contributed to their own downfall. 'Why they didn't drink I don't know. In this weather every time you stop - a foul, a throw-in - you must be drinking every chance you have,' said goalkeeper Shahab Kankouny. 'Hong Kong came down and down and down. The weather here isn't like it is in Hong Kong and they'd only had three days to prepare.' Hong Kong's coach Kenny Lai Sun-cheung, who resorted to his 'easy win, easy lose' mantra, was equally bemused by the team's failure to reach for the water sooner. 'We were losing our physical condition and we were losing every challenge,' he said of the visible drop-off in intensity midway through the first period. 'Before the match, we put water around the field and told them they must drink. It's very important. We do it when we are training.' South China wing-back Szeto Man-chun defended the players, saying in the heat of the moment there wasn't time to protect themselves against the heat. 'The play kept going, so we couldn't drink. Personally, I didn't feel it was too tough physically. I was a little thirsty, but I felt OK,' he said. Part of the blame however lies in the team's limited programme before the match. While the SAR got away with a late arrival in Malaysia in their first Group Four game, the jump in time zone and climate was miniscule compared to the five-hour gap and oven-like aridity of the Middle East. Arriving just 21/2 days before the kick-off, without a friendly match, in a week when 30 other Asian countries were preparing for World Cup games, was asking for trouble. Iraq, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Oman, all had home games on Wednesday night and were all potential warm-up opponents from whom Hong Kong could have learned an arid lesson in time for a crucial match. Instead they now face the prospect of fighting with Malaysia to avoid the Group Four wooden spoon while group leaders China look uncatchable on nine points after their 4-0 hammering of Malaysia. Having said that, Hong Kong's display was not as disastrous as the scoreline suggests. They started well and could have taken the lead but for Kankouny's save off Wong Chun-yue's far-post header in the eighth minute. Even after Kuwait took the lead three minutes later, when livewire Bader Al Mutawa's shot rebounded off the far post and squirmed under Fan Chun-yip's body for Hussain Seraj to score, the SAR bounced back with one of their better attacking displays. 'It's not a bad defeat, only a bad result. Our performance wasn't so bad,' said Lai, whose side were out of the game by half-time after Al Mutawa's 37th-minute header and Mesaed Neda's 44th-minute free-kick both bounced off the crossbar and over the goal-line. Perhaps the most alarming aspect of the loss, which was confirmed when Khalaf Al Mutairi rounded off a set-move from a corner in the 75th minute by prodding home Abdulrahman Al Musa Al Dawood's near-post flick, was how poorly Hong Kong dealt with their disappointment. 'Some of the players lost heart,' said Lai. 'The psychology needs to be that in any situation I need to work hard and not care about whether we're winning or losing. One or two players really went down. I didn't like that and I didn't like our lack of shouting. I don't know why we were so quiet. Before the match we had good confidence. We were very active in the warm-up but there was no encouragement on the field.' Lai realises the solution to that problem is a tough one that involves changing the whole culture of Hong Kong football - the talkative footballer is regarded as daaih beih (literally big nose, the Cantonese equivalent of big-headed). 'When I played I was always talking, but no one talks in Hong Kong football,' Lai said. 'Our players don't like someone who talks, but in football you must. But they think those players are noisy and want them to keep quiet.' The biggest upset of the night in Asian World Cup qualifying was in Tehran where two-time finalists Iran suffered a major setback when they crashed 1-0 at home to Jordan. Iran, who reached the finals in 1978 and 1998, were stunned when Haytham Al-Shboul grabbed the winner seven minutes from time. The win gave Jordan maximum points at the top of their group.