MALAYSIA snatched the bronze from the jaws of a gritty Argentina when they beat them 3-2 in the Sultan of Johor Cup at the Taman Daya Stadium yesterday.
The hosts won a total of five penalty corners and scored three, while Argentina failed to convert even a single out of the six they won.
"The last game of a tournament is always crucial for any team, and I am very satisfied with how my players performed to win the bronze.
"I am a coach who likes to push my players to the limit and finally, I think they broke the glass ceiling above their heads and that's why they performed exceptionally today (yesterday)," said Malaysian coach Arul Selvaraj.
The only casualty of the tournament was Meor Azuan, who tore a hamstring 20 leading to the Junior Asia Cup.
"As for the SOJ, it is the only invitational tournament in the world that offers juniors a chance to grow into men. The Malaysian team is grateful to the organisers who did a wonderful job yet again," said Arul.
Under hazy conditions, Malaysia gave a good account of themselve in 35 minutes of play as they took a 2-1 lead into the breather.
Malaysian on a total of three penalty corners, and Shahril Saabah scored his eight goal of the tournament in the seventh minute.
But Argentina equalsied three minutes later when Santiago Tarazona broke free and nailed a field attempt.
There was another controlled display from Malaysia after the equaliser, and they won their second penalty coener in the 17th minute and this time, Najmi Jazlan stepped up and scored his third goal of the SOJC.
With a slim 2-1 lead, Malaysia trooped into the dressing room for a 10-minute 'chat' with coach Arul Selvaraj.
The break brought our a refreshed Malaysia, and in the 41st minute, off their fourth penalty corner, Najmi perfected a drive which almost tore the netting and Malaysia took a comfortable 3-1 lead with plenty of playing time left.
Argentina kept their fire burning, when a mistrap from defender Zulpidaus Mizun in the 52nd minute saw the ball rise above the head of Argentine Nicolas Keenan who raised his stick and slammed the ball in for 2-3.
Malaysia went into trouble mode after that, as two players were sent to the sin-bin, reducing the numbers. Firdaus Omar was green carded in the 54th, while skipper Najib Hassan yellow carded in the 55th.
But they kept their cool, and even defended three back-to-back penalty corners to stop the bronze from travelling to Argentina.
RESULTS: Fifth-Sixth: Pakistan 0 Australia 5; Third-Fourth: Malaysia 3 Argentina 2; Final: India x Britain x.