Malaysia put up a credible performance after a long layoff due to COVID-19 but they just could not prevent Japan from taking a 3-0 win in the first of a series of friendlies this week at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium.
Both teams were cautious at the start as they took the time to feel their way forward with the Malaysians making several foraging runs.
Muhd Firhan Ashaari and Tengku Ahmad Tajudin made a break in the seventh minute off a defensive lapse but was thwarted by a recovering defender.
It was Japan who put in the pressure into the second quarter but the Malaysian duo of
Muhd Marhan Jalil and Syed M. Syafiq Syed Cholan stood their ground against the hardworking Japanese forward Koji Yamasaki.
Japan finally broke through in the 19th minute when Hirotaka Zendana smashed in a penalty corner.
Malaysia continue to absorb the pressure as Japan pushed forward in numbers and it was the excellent work from goalkeeper Muhd Zaimi Mat Deris that prevented Japan from doubling the advantage just three minutes later.
The home team tried hard to string two passes together into the attack but the Japanese were just too determined defensively as the score ended with the Japanese on top at the end of the pulsating halfway point through the game.
Japan would start the third quarter with a failed penalty corner as the Malaysians stick to much the same manner as they had done previously.
But with Faizal Shaari closely guarded, the push down the flanks provided the Malaysians opportunities that came close but not close enough for the equalizer.
Persistent pressure into the fourth and final quarter gave Japan their second goal in the 50th minute when Kota Watanabe fired in from inside the D to put then 2-0 in front.
Ryosei Kato then finished things off for Japan with a field goal in the 55th minute to give the visitors the win.