KUALA LUMPUR, 5 Dec – Working with a small budget is a challenge for Negeri Sembilan’s newly appointed coach K. Devan but it is more challenging for the 59-year-old to take the Deer back to the Super League in the 2022 season.
Returning to his home state is described by him as the “right time” to revive Negeri Sembilan’s football fortunes which have nosedived of late after another mediocre run in the recently concluded Malaysian Football League.
Negeri failed to qualify for the Malaysia Cup after finishing a lowly 11th in the second-tier Premier League.
Devan, who coached Petaling Jaya City FC in the Super League last season, did not hesitate to return to his home state after his contract with PJ City ended at the end of November and was strongly linked to several others including Melaka United.
“I have worked with other teams like MIFA-MISC with a small budget. Negeri is no different and I have put forth my ‘small budget’ plans that have been accepted by the team’s management,” said Devan from Seremban.
“It is a challenge but I am confident. The new season will see many teams reducing their budget by about 30 percent due to the (Covid-19) pandemic. Players are willing to take a salary cut and many of the Negeri-born plying their (football) trade elsewhere are returning.”
Devan, while not willing to reveal names, said some of the well-known locals have accepted to play for Negeri.
”The management will announce their names soon. I am not in a position to name them yet. We are also talking to some good imports to finalize the squad,”’ added Devan who is hoping to start training in the third week of December.
The Malaysian Football League is scheduled to start on Feb 28.
Devan is not new to Negeri in coaching. He began his coaching stint in 2004 and hit success the following (2005-2006) with the Deer winning the Super League title.
He also took Negeri to the Malaysia Cup final in 2006 and in the FA Cup reached the semi-finals.
”’We need a top-two finish in the Premier League in the new season to gain promotion to the Super League. We can achieve this target,” said a confident Devan.