MALAYSIA beat Pakistan 2-1 to keep the flame burning in the Sultan of Johor Cup at the Taman Daya Stadium in Johor Baru yesterday.
And now they must beat India on Friday to play against Australia in the final. India made a late surge when they beat New Zealand 2-1 in an earlier match.
Malaysia played a cautious opening game, and were contended in soaking in the pressure from Pakistan.
There was no full press like the three earlier matches, but it was on the right flank that Malaysia looked dangerous when they opted to attack with Amir Farid and Syamim Yusof and Ahmad Fuzi clicking well.
And the breakthrough came in the 13th minute when Fitri Saari played a free hit, at the edge of the semi circle, straight into a Pakistani defender's legs, and the umpire awarded a penalty corner to Malaysia.
Skipper Noor Faeez Ibrahim then sent a drag flick into the roof of the Pakistani net and the scores tood until half-time.
The script was the same in the second half, and urged on by the vrowd, Malaysia finally broke free for the second time when Amir Farid scored in the 51st minute.
But Pakistan pulled one back in the 59th minute when Muhammad Umer scored a field attempt, but Malaysia held on to keep their hopes of reaching the final alive.
In the first match of the day, under a blazing sun, Australia booked their spot in the final with one match to spare when they came back from the dead to beat South Korea 6-3.
The nine-goal thriller was almost marred by a walkover, as Australia foughback from being 0-2 and 1-3 down at one stage, before taking the lead for the first time in the 53rd minute.
Australia went ahead 4-3 when Dylan Wotherspoon scored in the 53rd, and after that all hell broke loose.
The Koreans were upset with the decision of umpire Michael Eilmer of Austria in awarding a penalty corner against them and walked off in a huff. Only intervention by coach Song Seung Tae saved the day as they walked back only to find themselves in more trouble.
Korean keeper Lee Se Young was yellow carded for bringing down Aussie striker Josh Walters and Australia were awarded a penalty stroke in the 55th minute which William Shaw duly converted to make the score 5-3 and it was game over for the Koreans.
RESULTS: South Korea 3 Australia 6, India 2 New Zealand 1, Pakistan 1 Malaysia 2.
FRIDAY: Australia v Pakistan (4pm), New Zealand v South Korea (6pm), India v Malaysia (8pm).
P W D L F A Pts
AUSTRALIA 4 4 0 0 17 7 12
MALAYSIA 4 2 1 1 8 6 7
INDIA 4 2 0 2 13 11 6
S KOREA 4 2 0 2 13 15 6
N ZEALAND 4 1 1 2 4 9 4
PAKISTAN 4 0 0 4 3 10 0