BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
It isn't often that a club have to begin a new season with its president apologising to the fans for the previous season's missteps, but that is what exactly happened with Pahang.
In the 2017 season launch for the Elephants held earlier this month, Tengku Abdul Rahman Sultan Ahmad Shah took the time to say sorry to Pahang fans for what happened to the club last year; mainly involving a botched attempt at privatisation (the 'FC' has since been dropped from its name and the old club crest restored), and their flirting with relegation.
Read our write up on the apology here
This season they seem intent on quietly undoing the aftermath of last season, especially with the appointment of the successful former head coach Dollah Salleh, who in his last stint with Pahang guided them to the 2013 Malaysia Cup title. But they may just achieve more than that, judging by their new signings.
NOTABLE TRANSFERS (as at 26/1/2017)
The Pahang squad for 2017 has been changed significantly, with all their foreign players replaced with new ones, and big Malaysian names signed.
They have signed Brazilian striker Matheus Alves, South Koeran midfielder Heo Jae-won, Gambian midfielder Mohamadou Sumareh, as well as Spanish defender Kiko Insa. Curiously, reports have emerged that Insa has been given a Malaysian citizenship, and is now qualified to be registered as a local player, as well as to play for Malaysia in the future.
But it is their new local signings that have excited their fans and neutral ones alike. They've signed former Malaysia U-23 players Muslim Ahmad and Wan Zaharulnizam Zakaria from Kelantan, Syamim Yahya and Christie Jayaseelan from Felda United, Joseph Kalang Tie, Ahmad Nordin Alias, Zubir Azmi and Ashari Samsudin from Terengganu, as well as Afif Amiruddin and T-Team goalkeeper Wan Azraie Wan Teh.
Joseph Kalang Tie while playing for Terengganu last season. Photo by Terengganu FA Facebook
Meanwhile, midfielder Fauzi Roslan, goalkeeper Nasril Nourdin as well as Saarvindran Devandran have departed the Darulmakmur.
In: Muslim Ahmad (Kelantan), Wan Zaharulnizam Zakaria (Kelantan), Syamim Yahya (Felda), Christie Jayaseelan (Felda), Joseph Kalang Tie(Terengganu), Ahmad Nordin Alias (Terengganu), Zubir Azmi (Terengganu), Ashari Samsudin (Terengganu), Afif Amiruddin (Perlis), Wan Azraie Wan Teh (T-Team), Matheus Alves (Fluminense FC), Heo Jae-won (Dibba Al-Fujairah), Kiko Insa (Bali United), Mohamadou Sumareh (Perlis).
Out: Nasril Nourdin (Perlis), Shahrizan Salleh (Shahzan Muda), Fauzi Roslan (Melaka), Saarvindran Devandran (JDT II), Faysal Shayesteh (Arema Cronus), Jailton Claudio (released), Meneses (released), Pablo Vranjicán (released).
The Elephants won almost all of their pre-season friendlies. Although they began their preparations with a shocking 4-3 defeat to Premier League side Kuantan FA, they then recorded 3-1 and 4-1 victories over Huogang United and Tampines Rovers in Singapore, before defeating Kuala Lumpur 3-2 in another friendly back home.
Their botched attempt at privatisation in 2016 may have split opinions, but no one can deny the potential they seemingly have for the 2017 season. This is showcased by their 1-1 away draw against the equally star-studded Perak last weekend.
The board's guarantee to retake control of matters at the club, the return of a successful former boss and the signings of big local names should all combine to make Pahang a team that is good enough to finish in a top three position in the league this season.