MALAYSIA played like men possessed to beat Australia 3-2 in the Sultan of Johor Cup at the Taman Daya Stadium in Johor Baru yesterday.
Australia won 10 penalty corners and tried every trick in the book, even removing their goalkeeper and relaying on a kicking back four minutes to end, but Malaysia held on for this famous victory.
Playing in-front of a capacity crowd, standing and sitting shoulder-to-shoulder, Malaysia took the match to the Australian circle and scored off their first penalty corner of the match in the fifth minute.
Shahril Saabah, who has experience playing with the senior team, almost tore the netting with a powerful drive.
Malaysia mounted a series of attacks after that, but failed to increase the lead. Australia won seven penalty corners in the first half, but failed all while Malaysia trooped into the dressing room with 100 per cent penalty corner conversion.
And it was a dream start in the second half, as Norsyafiq Sumantri pounced on a rebound to claim Malaysia's second goal in the 38th minute.
But Australia finally got penalty corner number eight right in the 43rd minute when Frazer Gerrard beat goalkeeper Ridzwan Azmi with a low drive.
Australia started to play robust hockey after that, and two players were yellow carded. Malaysia pinned them in the semi-circle and won their second penalty corner in the 55th, and Najmi Jazlan's low drive made it 3-1.
Max Hendry made it 2-3 in the 63rd minute, and with four minutes left on the clock, Australia took out goalkeeper Matthew Finn and relied on a kicking back but there was no denying Malaysia their glorious win.
Man-of-the Match went to goalkeeper Ridzwan Azmi, who had two earlier bad games, but was on fire against the Aussies.
The next two matches are vital for Malaysia, as they meet Junior Asia Cup opponents India today and Pakistan on Saturday.
Coach Arul Selvaraj's charges must show that they can beat, or match, both the teams heading into the Junior World Cup qualifier in Kuantan next month.
"We are indebted go the fans who came out in force and believed in us. Today's (yesterday's) game was on how to maintain a hold after taking a lead, and also ingraine a winning mentality in the team," said Arul.
As for India, our next opponents: "We need to check on our anger in the next two games as we received two yellow and three green cards and men were out at crucial momenents.
"India are in the same pool with us in the Junior Asia Cup, while we might meet Pakistan in the crossover so both the matches are actually the most important 'assignments' in the SOJC."
Defending champions India were made to sweat buckets before they overcame a stubborn Argentina. The India goals were scored by Armaan Quereshi (third), Gurjant Singh (11th) and Nilakanta Sharma (50th). Argentina got their goals off Maico Casella (39th) and Nicolas Keenan (54th).
Pakistan played their best game of the tournament, yet, to hold table toppers Australia to a 0-0 draw.
RESULTS: Britain 0 Pakistan 0, Argentina 2 India 3, Mlaysia 3 Australia 2.
TODAY: Pakistan v Argentina (4.35pm), Britain v Australia (6.35pm), India v Malaysia (8.35pm).
P W D L F A Pts
BRITAIN 3 2 1 0 8 5 7
INDIA 3 2 0 1 11 7 6
ARGENTINA 3 1 1 1 5 5 4
MALAYSIA 3 1 1 1 7 8 4
AUSTRALIA 3 1 0 2 8 6 3
PAKISTAN 3 0 1 2 3 11 1