Japan’s Sasaki says Azzmi is key behind Negri’s tactical transformation in game

PETALING JAYA: Negri Sembilan may have not started the season with a win, but there is optimism under the leadership of coach Azzmi Aziz.

Despite losing to defending champions Johor Darul Ta’zim 1-3 in their first Super League game at the Sultan Ibrahim Stadium on Saturday, the Deer were no pushovers as they made the home side work hard for their goals.

Despite not having most of the possession and chances, it was the off-the-ball work that got many talking as Negri Sembilan were tactically organised throughout the game.

They even scored a goal thanks to a quick counter from Japanese playmaker Takumi Sasaki, which was finished off by Myanmar international winger Hein Htet Aung.

Sasaki said Azzmi has been a catalyst for the team since his arrival almost a month ago.

“He is a tactician with good knowledge of the game. And his team management is also great. In the match against JDT, he was able to control and inspire the players well,” said the 26-year-old Sasaki.

“I think that many players will grow under him in this team, and I aspire to be one of them.

“Having played with many managers in Japan, I think his coaching level is comparable to a J. League manager.

“Looking back at the game against JDT, coach Azzmi’s tactical strategy worked, but we still have a long way to go and need a lot of training for the upcoming matches.”

Sasaki is one of the new foreigners signed by Negri Sembilan and has been hailed as a key man for the team.

The former Japan Under-20 international has played for several J-League sides like Vegalta Sendai, Tokushima Vortis, Renofa Yamaguchi and Ehime in the past.

Next up, Negri Sembilan will take on another giant in the form of Selangor at the Tuanku Abdul Rahman Stadium in Paroi on May 26.

Sasaki has faith that Azzmi’s approach will be fruitful again against the Red Giants.

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