Zesh Rehman is relishing the chance to reunite with his former Queens Park Rangers teammate Damion Stewart as the two centre-backs hope to steer Pahang to glory in the Super League this season.
Zesh, who was the first Pakistan international to play in England, formed a formidable partnership in defence with Stewart for QPR between 2006-09.
The duo are expected to start when Pahang take on Singapore's LionsXII in the Charity Shield-cum-league match at Darulmakmur Stadium on Friday.
Zeshan, 30, started his professional career with 21 appearances for Fulham in 2003 and also represented England in various age-group competitions before making his debut for Pakistan nine years ago.
"Damion and I played together for a few seasons in England and we know each other on-and-off the pitch. Hopefully, we can get our partnership going for Pahang in the league," said Zeshman after Pahang's signing ceremony with apparel sponsor Puma in Bandar Utama yesterday.
"He told me about Pahang and I also spoke to others about the club. Everyone said only good things about Pahang. My aim is to give the fans something to cheer about this season."
Zeshan, who had loan stints with Blackpool and Bradford City, believes Pahang have the quality to progress accordingly following their Malaysia Cup success last season.
"I have been following the M-League for the last two seasons as I played AFC Cup matches here with my former club, Kitchee FC of Hong Kong.
"The level of play is high and the fans are passionate about the game. I believe Pahang are a good side with a strong foundation as 95 per cent of their players have been together for several years.
"The target (of retaining the Malaysia Cup and finishing in the top three bracket in the league) is achievable. We need to focus on ourselves as other teams will pay attention to us following last season's success," Zeshan added.
Despite not having enough training time in Kuantan due to the recent floods and a poor pre-season in Hong Kong, coach Ronald Smith believes his team will do well in their opening league matches.
"I only joined the team recently in Hong Kong for friendly matches on synthetic pitches.
"It was an important trip for conditioning. Upon arriving in Kuantan, we only had one training session due to the heavy downpour.
"Despite the limited training time, my players are responding well to my methods and should have a good start against Lions on Friday," said Smith.
Smith, who helped Sabah win the Premier League and also reach the Malaysia Cup final in 1996, signed a one-year deal with a clause, reviewing his contract every three months.
"The contract was drawn up in December when I was still keen to go to the World Cup finals in Brazil with Australia. I've been doing match analysis for Australia for the last decade and had gone for the last two World Cups.
"I will remain with Pahang for the entire season and not go for the World Cup finals as it is not like I'm coaching the Australia team," Smith added.
Meanwhile, Pahang FA (PFA) signed a three-year deal worth RM3 million with Puma in a ceremony attended by its president Tengku Abdul Rahman Sultan Ahmad Shah yesterday.
Tengku Abdul Rahman said the new sponsorship will spur his players to greater heights for the new season.
"I want my players to step up and play in the league and do well in every game," said Tengku Abdul Rahman.
On whether PFA has appealed the FA of Malaysia's decision to allow its former midfielder Amirulhadi Zainal to play for Darul Ta'zim following a contract dispute, Tengku Abdul Rahman said his association had done so and was waiting for a response.
Read more: Ex-QPR mates aim to power Pahang to glory - Soccer - New Straits Times http://www.nst.com.my/sports/soccer/ex-qpr-mates-aim-to-power-pahang-to-glory-1.461773#ixzz2qQ0Pj71d