PETALING JAYA: Negri Sembilan, demoted to Premier II this season, look set for a quick return to top flight football going by their impressive pre-season results.
They have recorded seven wins, two draws and only one defeat, to newly-promoted Premier I side Malacca Telekom.
Negri Sembilan, who finished bottom of Premier I last year, have a new-look team built around 10 new signings, comprising ex-internationals, who have so far impressed coach K. Devan.
They recorded wins against Armed Forces (3-0, 3-2), Police (4-0), Selangor MPPJ (3-1), Malacca (3-2) Negri President's Cup (1-0) and FAM Cup side Bukit Jalil Securities (10-1).
They drew with Kuala Lumpur (2-2) and Johor FC (1-1) but lost 1-2 to Telekom.
“They are shaping up well. I have more or less finalised the first 11 and hope to see them produce the same form when the league resumes next week.
“All they have to do is to improve on their match fitness,'' said Devan, whose boys travel to play former Malaysia Cup champions Terengganu in their last warm-up match at the Sultan Ismail Stadium in Kuala Terengganu tonight.
The Deer have in their ranks seasoned campaigners, among them striker Azman Adnan; goalkeeper Azlisham Ibrahim; defenders B. Rajanikandh, Lim Chan Yew, Khairul Anuar Baharom and Redzuan Radzy; midfielders Mohamed Aiman Wong, Azrul Amri Burhan, Rosli Omar and Anuar Jusoh.
''We still have room for a foreign striker. We will have a look at a Nigerian striker, who played in the English First Division and another Ghanaian who was on trials with Brunei recently,'' said Devan, a former President's Cup coach.
The local players retained from last year are Mohamed Suffian Abdul Rahman, Norhafiz Zamani Misbah, Effendi Abdul Malek, Azrine Efendy, Mohd Saiful Sabtu, S. Palanisamy, K. Rajan, Shahrizam Mohamad, Mohd Yunus Mulup and Norhainizam Shahabudin.
The 12 teams in Premier II this year are Kuala Lumpur, Negri, Johor, Brunei, Kelantan SKMK, Kelantan TNB, Kelantan JPS, Selangor MPPJ, Selangor Public Bank, Perak TKN, Armed Forces and Police.