Malaysia registered a 3-1 victory over Japan to finish in fifth position.
The result was a complete reverse of the 1-1 draw against the Japanese in the tournament’s opening day match played last Saturday.
Both teams came into this fifth-sixth placing encounter with polished performances against India and Australia respectively 24 hours earlie
The Malaysians dented Asian Games gold medallist and World No 6 India’s hopes of making the final with a 1-0 win whilst the Japanese did what others failed – smothering World champions Australia 3-2 for their first ever win over the World No 2 side in Japan’s hockey history.
Malaysia won silver medals five times (1985, 2007, 2009, 2013 and 2014) and a bronze in 1999.
They finished sixth in 2015 but showed some improvement last season with a fourth placing following a 3-3 draw in regulation time against New Zealand before going on to win 5-4 on penalties.
Japan, who has yet to win a medal in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, started off on a slow pace and allowed the host to dominate the first half and the Malaysians reciprocated by taking a 2-0 lead.
Haziq Samsul scored the opening goal in the eighth minute from a reverse stick drive that caught goalkeeper Suguru Shimmoto off guard and Goal No 2 came three minutes later via Firhan Ashaari who picked a pass from Fitri Saari at the top D and moved in virtually unchallenged before unleashing a powerful shot from an acute angle.
The Japanese regrouped after this setback and reduced the deficit through Kaito Tanaka in the 28th minute but the host continued the pressure on Japan to go 3-1 ahead from their sixth penalty corner, courtesy of a Faizal Saari drag-flick.
However, a heavy downpour greeted the match one minute and three seconds before the end of the third quarter that forced match officials to stop play until the weather situation returns to normal.
The fourth quarter resumed after an hour and 20 minutes wait due to rain and it was Malaysia that came close to scoring.
Faizal Saari, however, miscued a pass from Shahril Saabah when Suguru came out of his line to stop the duo.
As the score remained the same after the hooter, Japan finished at the bottom of the six-team tournament, just as they did in the seven-team 2016 edition.