Analysis

Will Pahang achieve privatisation and at what cost?

The Elephants are driving to become a private entity but has it affected their performances so much that they are on the brink of relegation? 

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It is not quite the same but as citizens of the United Kingdom hope that the short-term pain of 'Brexit', the departure from the European Union, will bring long-term gain, fans of Pahang have fingers crossed too.

The drive to make the club a private sporting entity may bring dividends in the future but at the moment, supporters are having a difficult time. To change from FA to FC is more difficult than it looks.

Pahang are a big club in Malaysia. The Elephants won the FA and Malaysia Cup double in 2014 and managed to make the last eight of the AFC Cup last season, a year when they also finished second in the Malaysia Super League even if points deduction sent them from second to third.

That was something of a disappointment then but fans dream of such a standing now for Pahang FC are staring relegation in the face. It all started, or ended, last season.

Months before the end, all in Malaysia knew that coach Zainal Abidin Hassan would be leaving for Selangor.

Pahang were the Malaysia Cup winners in 2014

As the coach left, so did many of the team's best players. Dickson Nwakaeme, Matias Conti and Damion Stewart departed as did local lights such as R. Gopinathan and Azamuddin Akil.

“They changed all their players,” former Pahang coach and playing legend Dollah Salleh told FourFourTwo.

“Zainal went to Selangor as did the players and JDT. So they need time to build up the new team and with youngsters, that takes time and is not easy.”

There was one point from the first six games with the 4-1 loss at Penang being the Panthers' only win of the season so far.

Soon after Ahmad Shaharuddin Rosdi resigned as head coach, Razip Ismail stepped into the breach.

The Elephants are struggling in the league this season. Photo: PDRM

The Elephants seemed to have turned a corner with back-to-back 4-3 wins over Perak and Kelantan but the first stage of the season ended with two games against champions Johor Darul Ta'zim, with an aggregate scoreline of 9-0. It ensured that the last few football-less weeks have been difficult ones.

When the league restarts, the first three games are against relegation rivals: Sarawak, Kelantan and Perak.

It has been almost two months since the league stopped but once again, there have been more changes.

Pahang have replaced all four of their foreign contingent including popular central defender Zesh Rehman and Argentinian star German Pacheco, with players from Brazil, Argentina and Afghanistan.

“They have brought in new foreign players,” said Dollah. “I don't know how good they are so it is hard to say what will happen.”