MALAYSIA drew the Five-Series friendly against Japan when they collapsed to a 2-2 draw after taking a 2-0 lead at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil last night.
Japan won the first two matches with identical 2-1 scores, but Malaysia won the third 4-1, then 3-2 and threw away the match yesterday.
Malaysia played their best match in the series, but still could not break the Japanese determination in the first half, as they defended stoutly.
Japan had one penalty corner, while Malaysia had none as the national strikers took goalbound shots, instead of trying to win penalty corners.
And they almost took the lead, when Faizal Saari beat three defenders to set up Azlan Misron, who was facing an open goalmouth, only to see the former skipper shooting wide.
In the second half, after some superb defending by goalkeeper S. Kumar denied the Japanese, Izwan Firdaus received a long pass and he beat one defender and sent a reverse stick shot which went crashing onto the board.
The goal opened up the match, and in the 55th minute, it was Faizal Saari's turn to score off a field goal to increase the lead.
Japan narrowed the lead in the 66th minute when Toshiro Tashibanu and then drew level in the 67th minute off Kenta Tanaka to force a draw.
The national team's next assignment is the inaugural Asian Champions Trophy on Sept 3-11 at the Mongolian city or Ordos.
Asian Games champions Pakistan, South Korea, India, China and Japan have confirmed for the tournament.