KUALA LUMPUR: Coach K. Dharmaraj's women held their heads high even though they lost 3-1 to world number eight China in the Asian Champions Trophy in Donghae, South Korea, Monday.
Malaysia, ranked 22nd, will now play Japan on Wednesday.
Hanis Nadia Onn scored for Malaysia in the 22nd minute while the China goals came off Zhang Jinrong (third), Li Hong (20th) and Cui Qiuxia (53rd).
Dharmaraj was pleased with his charges, who gave world beaters China a great fight.
"Our opponent is among the top teams in Asia (silver medal in the 2017 Asia Cup) and ranked much higher than us. And so, my charges exceeded my expectations and I am very happy to see their progress," said Dharmaraj.
Malaysia were down 2-0 but still fought back to score, and China's third goal came off a penalty stroke.
"In the fourth quarter, skipper Siti (Noor Amarina Ruhani) made a rough tackle and China asked for a video referral which resulted in a penalty stroke. We had a good chance to narrow the gap, but missed a penalty corner attempt.
"We play Japan next after a days rest and I expect it to be another tough encounter."
Japan held South Korea 1-1 Monday, while Malaysia had lost to the Koreans 3-1 in the curtain raiser.