MALAYSIA - It was the first gathering of the group many believe will end 2014 as the kings of Malaysian football.
Huge sums were spent assembling the crack group of internationals and the hiring of a big-name coach, and there will be intense pressure on Malaysian Super League (MSL) side Johor Darul Takzim (JDT) when the season kicks off next month.
But there was still fun to be had for the squad on Day 1 of pre-season yesterday.
Former LionsXII star and Singapore international defender Baihakki Khaizan was successfully lured across the Causeway and the 29-year-old started his Johor career working a one-touch pass routine with former Argentina international, Pablo Aimar.
"When I walked in, the first thing I heard from my new teammates was, 'here comes the Lions' man'," and they kept joking about how I used to give Mat Yo (Norshahrul Idlan Talaha) a hard time on the pitch, but now we're teammates," Baihakki told The New Paper yesterday.
Under the watchful gaze of the Johor Crown Prince, Tunku Ismail Idris, who stood in the rain from the sidelines, former Valencia coach Cesar Fernando Jimenez put his new charges through a 90-minute session from 8.15am.
The seriousness of the task is not lost on Baihakki, who plans to drive daily to Johor Baru from his Woodlands home.
"We know that on paper we have a team that can win trophies.
"It's a matter being able to gel and making sure we show it on the pitch," said the centre back, voted the Best Defender at this year's Football Association of Malaysia annual awards.
"We're only getting a rough picture of what (Jimenez) wants. We did mostly fitness work but this is just the beginning.