MALAYSIA survived an early scare, yet again, to beat Canada 3-1 and keep their hopes of playing in the final of the Azlan Shah Cup alive and kicking.
There were plenty of desperate moments, when the Malaysian players started to collect cards in their attempts to stop the Canadians, but a refreshed second half approach won them the crucial three points.
Malaysia started on a super note as they attacked relentlessly for the first five minutes, and were rewarded when the partnership of Marhan Jalil and Faizal Saari clicked in the fourth minute itself.
A darting solo run from Marhan, was followed by a deft pass to Faizal which only needed a deflection past goalkeeper David Carter for the lead.
There was another chance to seal the match early, when Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin won the first penalty corner in the seventh minute, but Faizal flicked it over the bar.
Canada came out of their shell, and won their first penalty corner in the 15th minute, and Adam Froese perfected it past goalkeeper Hafizuddin Othman for the equaliser.
Cheered on by a full gallery at the Azlan Shah Stadium, Malaysia were supposed to play much better but started collecting cards instead, and giving the Canadians the advantage. First Izzat Hakimi was shown the green for rough paly in the 22nd minute, then Faizal Saari was yellow carded in the 24th minute for hitting Jagdish Gill.
And then in the 32nd minute, Azri Hassan was yellow carded, but still, Malaysia held on to the 1-1 score going into the dressing room.
The team again walked out of the dressing room looking confident, like they did when they were down 0-2 to South Korea and eventually drew the match at 2-2.
And in the 46th minute, Malaysian won their fourth penalty corner and a dummy from Shahril Saabah saw Faizal netting his brace to give Malaysia the lead again.
Faizal and his mates had many more chances to increase the lead, but the Canadian goalkeeper David played a solid second half to deny them.
And the one-goal lead was too slim going into the last five minutes of the match, but Ahmad Kazamirul made sure the win belonged to Malaysia when he scored a field goal in the 67th minute. Man-of-the-match was aptly awarded to Faizal Saari.
Meanwhile World No 1 Australia demolished South Africa 7-0 to move closer to playing in the final. The Australians have nine points after three matches as they had whitewashed China 7-0 and Canada 6-0 in earlier matches.
RESULTS: South Africa 0 Australia 7, China 2 South Korea 3, Malaysia 3 Canada 1.
P W D L F A Pts
AUSTRALIA 3 3 0 0 20 0 9
S KOREA 3 2 1 0 8 4 7
MALAYSIA 3 2 1 0 8 5 7
CHINA 3 1 0 2 7 10 3
CANADA 3 0 0 3 1 12 0
S AFRICA 3 0 0 3 2 15 0
March 18: REST DAY.
March 19: Canada v South Africa (6pm), Malaysia v China (8pm).
March 20: Canada v China (6pm), South Korea v Australia (8pm).
March 21: REST DAY.
March 22: Australia v Malaysia (6pm), South Africa v South Korea (8pm).