Pahang are looking to build on their FA Cup quarterfinal success with a win against Armed Forces at the Darul Makmur Stadium on Saturday.
The Elephants lost their last league game, away to Terengganu 2-0, but all were forgotten after defeating former coach Dollah Salleh’s Police to reach the FA Cup semifinals.
With Zainal Abidin Hassan back as coach, replacing Ron Smith, Pahang are hoping to keep up with Super League table toppers Terengganu. Pahang are four points behind the Turtles.
Pahang have a fully fit squad with Hafiz Kamal the only doubtful after picking up a knock during international duty. The Pahang midfield lynch-pin made his first two appearance for Malaysia against Philippines and Yemen.
Zainal believes there were no reasons to make drastic changes to the way Pahang plays after Smith’s departure.
“We would retain the positive aspects of Smith’s coaching but there some areas that we need to fine tune, especially in midfield. This is not my first game in charge as I took charge against Police in the FA Cup quarterfinals second-leg a fortnight ago.
“We need to win this match so we are not left behind the league leaders. It’s still early in the league but we cannot afford to drift to far away the leading pack. Armed Forces may have been inconsistent but most teams have been that way so far.
While Pahang have nearly everyone fit and ready, the same cannot be said for Armed Forces. Injuries to key players such as Marlon Alex James, Spase Dilevski, K. Reuben, and Christie Jayaseelan have left manager-coach B. Satiananthan scratching his head.
“They have a new coach and although their style would be same, the players would surely lift their game and give their best to Zainal. He also knows the players very well.
“A draw would be a bonus for us. Pahang are the Malaysia Cup champions and here I am wondering if I would even have 18 players to call upon tomorrow.”