PETALING JAYA: Negri Sembilan have a coach who has provided them the Midas touch.
Under the charge of K. Devan, Negri have won two consecutive President's Cup (national Under-21) football titles. And he is looking at a hat-trick this time with the senior side in the FA Cup final against Perlis on Saturday.
It was the success with the President's Cup side that earned Devan a promotion to the senior team.
The 42-year-old coach from Bahau took Negri to their first-ever win in the President's Cup tournament in 2001 and his side retained the title last year.
The senior team have done well under the charge of Devan thus far this season.
They will be playing in the FA Cup final for the first time and they are one match away from winning their first major national football title since the 1948 triumph in the HMS Malaya Cup. En route to the final, they eliminated the big guns in Premier I Pahang, Perak and Sabah.
Negri are also doing well in Premier II and are in second spot behind leaders Johor with 26 points from 13 matches.
I guided Negri to two consecutive President's Cup titles. It has been a long, long time since Negri won a senior title and we hope that we will succeed on Saturday, said Devan.
If we succeed, we will also go into the record books as the first Premier II side to win the title since the tournament's inception in 1990.
Devan started his coaching career with Negri Sembilan Indian Association (NSIA) in 1991 and the team competed in the state's Dunhill League and also in the Bardhan Cup tournament.
From 1996 to 1999, he was in charge of Negri Sembilan Cempaka, the team who made it up the ranks to reach Premier I last year.
But Chempaka had to withdraw from the top flight competition this year because of financial difficulties.
Devan has a degree in environmental health from the Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM). He is a senior health inspector in Kuala Pilah and has taken one year of unpaid leave to coach the Negri side this season.
Devan, who is married with two children, said it was a joy to coach the team.
The players give me their full support and co-operation and I have no problem whatsoever in training them.
This is my first season with the senior team and if we win the FA Cup, it will be a great achievement for me. It will also enhance my coaching career, he said.
I have had luck with the Under-21 side. I hope good fortune will smile on us on Saturday.