* ‘There are many factors that make Pahang fear Sarawak’ -Zainal
* ‘Zesh does not get many chances but when he gets one he usually scores’ – Zainal
Chief coach Zainal Abidin Hassan was a one happy person on Saturday night after seeing Pahang carve out an impressive 3-1 win over Selangor at the Shah Alam Stadium that kept the East Coast side on the top of the Super League.
“It is a big boost to Pahang in our title chase…more so when you beat Selangor in their own den. But we are not getting carried away,” said Zainal, who wore a big smile and gave the thumbs up sign when television cameras focused on him as he made his way to the Selangor bench.
But in the same breath Zainal came out with a strong message for his Elephants that Pahang’s next match on Wednesday, which is against Sarawak at Kuantan’s Darul Makmur Stadium before the break for Hari Raya holidays, “is a dangerous one” – a match he fears most.
“Teamwork has been an essential part of Pahang this work. The players have surprised me with their commitment and discipline on the field.” added Zainal, who however, did single out Pahang’s towering England-born Pakistani defender Zesh Rehman who put the team back on track with the equaliser.
“Zesh rarely gets scoring opportunities but when he does he makes it count. And Zesh turned things around for us against Selangor after we conceded a soft goal.”
Zainal was referring to Selangor’s goal by Robert Cornthwaite which came as early as the fifth minute.
The Australian scored when his header off a freekick by Andik Vermansyah was misjudged by Pahang goalkeeper Khairul Azhan.
“It was a soft goal that we should not have conceded. In fact the freekick should not have been awarded against us in the first place,” said Zainal.
The former international admitted that he is surprised that Pahang have been in rhythm during the fasting month although it has been tough on all teams playing during Ramadan.
Zesh got the equaliser in the 50th minute before Matias Conti (59th) and Hafiz Kamal (68th) completed the rout.
“Playing matches during Ramadan and so late at night need to be seriously looked into. We are up against Sarawak at home on Wednesday, but mark my words, Sarawak will be a tough nut. They (Sarawak) are wounded and things have not gone well for the Crocs.
“They suffered back to back defeats and we simply cannot underrate them although we will be playing at home. Sarawak and other teams will be out to beat us to break our rhythm. We need to keep our momentum.”
For the record Sarawak slumped to a 4-2 defeat to Terengganu in Kuala Terengganu on Saturday and hovering around the relegation zone if they don’t start collecting points.
Sarawak are on 13 points after 14 matches and in ninth place – above 10th-placed Kelantan (11 points), 11th- placed Armed Forces (10 points) and table proppers Sime Darby (three points).
But Kelantan still have two matches in hand.