PETALING JAYA: Negri Sembilan are playing in Premier II this season but they have already attained star status following a shopping spree to round up seasoned hands.
Coach K. Devan said that he was being teased by fellow coaches in the M-League that Negri had a Real Madrid (Spanish giants).
“I hope we will be able to live up to our five-star status. The players have to do the talking on the field and produce results for Negri,” said Devan yesterday.
Among the better known players in the Negri line-up are Azman Adnan B. Rajanikandh, Azlisham Ibrahim, Mohamed Aiman Wong, Lim Chan Yew, Mohamed Anuar Jusoh, Suharmin Yusof, Khairul Anuar Baharom, Redzuan Radzy, Rosli Omar and Azrul Amri Burhan.
Negri also have in their ranks national players Norhafiz Zamani Misbah, Saiful Sabtu and K. Rajan. They also have local forward Effendi Malik and they are still looking for a foreign striker.
Former Negri coach Irfan Bakti said that Negri now had a formidable line-up with depth in the reserves too.
“I think their reserves can also form a first team,'' said Irfan during a course for local M-League coaches at the Wisma FAM in Kelana Jaya recently.
Negri were a big let down in Premier I last year. They finished bottom of the 14-team league and were relegated to Premier II with Kuala Lumpur.
Their FA have been allocated a whopping RM2.4 million budget to the team to make good this season.
Devan is no stranger to Negri. He was promoted to the senior team after having done well to lead the President's Cup squad to two consecutive championship titles. He will be assisted by Ahmad Osman.
He also had taken charge of Negri Sembilan Chempaka, who had withdrawn from the league this year.
In the run-up to the new season thus far, Devan, who also had stints with Negri Sembilan Chempaka, who have withdrawn from Premier I, said that he was glad to see better teamwork.
In recent friendly matches Negri beat Selangor MPPJ (3-1), Armed Forces (3-2) and Premier I's Malacca (3-2).
In Premier II, Negri will have for company Johor, KL, Selangor MPPJ, Selangor Public Bank, Kelantan TNB, Kelantan SKMK, Kelantan JPS, Perak TKN, Armed Forces, Police and Brunei.