JOHOR BARU: Malaysia showed true fighting spirit by coming back from a goal down to edge Pakistan 4-2 win to seal a place in the final of the Sultan of Johor Cup at the Taman Daya Stadium on Thursday.
It was Malaysia’s fourth consecutive win and they will wrap the fixtures against India on Saturday.
The match on Saturday will be a warm-up match as both teams have qualified for the final and they will face each other again on Sunday.
India also booked their place in the final after chalking up four wins.
Although India and Malaysia are tied at 12 points, India top the standings on better goal difference.
It is the second time Malaysia has qualified for the final. They edged Australia 3-2 in the final in the inaugural Sultan of Johor Cup in 2011.
It was a sweet win over Pakistan which had a number of national players.
National junior coach K. Dharmaraj said that it is great to be in the final again after finishing last in the six-nation tournament last year.
“I am really happy with my players’ performance as they came back from a goal down to beat Pakistan which is powered by a number of national players.
“All my hard work in training is paying off. But there are a few things I need to work on to ensure my players continue to play well in the tournament,” said Dharmaraj.
Cheered by 3,000 fans, Malaysia had a jittery start in the first-half but they picked up the tempo after the breather.
Pakistan, who needed a win over Malaysia to stay in the hunt for a place in the final, drew first blood in the 26th minute through Muhammad Dilber.
But their joy was short-lived as Malaysia equalised two minutes later off their third penalty corner through Mohd Zulhairi Hashim.
Defender Zulhairi Hashim's power flick hit the top of the net giving no chance to goalkeeper Mazhar Abbas. It was his second goal in the tournament.
Just four minutes into the second-half, Shahril gave Malaysia the lead off their fourth penalty corner. His low flick hit the pads of keeper Mazhar before the ball sailed into goal.
It was his sixth penalty corner goal in four matches.
Pakistan stormed back and cancelled Malaysia’s lead off a penalty stroke in the 48th minute.
Umpire Hundley awarded Pakistan a penalty stroke after skipper Mohd Fitri Saari used his body to stop the ball on the line.
Muhammad Tousiq made no mistake from the spot to send goalkeeper Mohd Hafizuddin Othman the wrong way.
But Fitri, who gave away the penalty stroke, regained the lead for Malaysia off a penalty corner set-piece in the 52nd minute.
Malaysia kept up the pressure and made it 4-2 in the 64th minute from close range attempt from Mohd Syamim Yusof.
In another match Thursday, India humiliated South Korea 6-1 to register their fourth consecutive win in the Sultan of Johor Cup at Taman Daya Stadium here on Thursday.
Rohidas Amit (7th), Satbir Singh (10th), Talwinder Singh (31st), Tirkey Amon Mirash (56th), Ramandeep Singh (62nd) and Yousuf Affan (65th) delivered the goals for India.
You Seung-ju scored the consolation goal for the Koreans in the 34th minute.
Indian coach Gregg Clark said that his players’ performance is improving in every match although they are without five national players.
“The players are clicking well and they are in the right frame of mind in preparation for the Junior World Cup in New Delhi in December,” said Clark.
“Our performances in the last two matches against Pakistan and the Koreans have been exceptionally well as we made use of our chances.
“Although we have qualified for the final, we look forward to another good outing against Malaysia tomorrow,” said the South African coach.