MALAYSIA lost another golden chance when they were bundled out of the Asian Champions Trophy final in a penalty shoot-out in Kuantan Saturday.
The score was tied 1-1 at regulation time, but Pakistan were better in the shoot-out to win 3-2 and play India in the final today.
Faiz Helmi Jali, Shahril Saabah and Fitri Shaari failed to score and Malaysia will now play South Korea for the bronze.
For the record, Malaysia have only won bronze medals in the last three editions.
Malaysian coach Stephen Van Huizen admitted his players did not play their best.
"Yes I admit the players were not up to the mark and have played much better against Japan and India. I hope this is a bitter lesson for them when they play in the World League (Round Two in Trinidad and Tobago next year) where they must get the job done at the crucial period," said van Huizen.
The game was played in constant drizzle, but the 4,000-odd crowd refuse to leave their seats and cheered on their favourite sport.
Goalkeeper S. Kumar was padded-up on Deepavali day, while striker Faizal Shaari rushed to Ipoh in the morning to welcome his first child, a son, to the world and was back in the evening to play for Malaysia.
Their dedication and sacrifices did not go to waste as Malaysia took the lead off their first penalty corner itself.
Shahril Saabah's drive in the 18th minute brought some relief into the game as it stood until the half-time breather.
It never stopped raining, and the slippery pitch made strikers from both sides slip and fall. However, Pakistan came back into the picture when Abdul Khan nailed the equalsier from close range in the 34th minute, and it was enough to take the match into penalty shoot-out.
In the other semi-finals, India had to bring out their best to deny a fighting South Korea in a tensed penalty shoot-out after the match ended 2-2.
Talwinder Singh (15th) and Ramandeep Singh (55th) scored for India while Seo Inwoo (21st) and Yang Jihun (53rd) scored for Korea.
In the shoot-out, India held their nerves to win 5-4.
RESULTS: Semi-finals -- Malaysia 1 Pakistan 1 (Pakistan win shoot-out 3-2), India 2 South Korea 2 (India win shoot-out 5-4).
Fifth-Sixth: China 4 Japan 3.
SUNDAY: Final -- Pakistan v India (8.30pm); Third-Fourth: Malaysia v South Korea (6.15pm).