All aboard The Far East Express which is currently stationed within Malaysia! As mentioned at the end of last season, DP-FM will stay in control for season 7 and I for one can’t wait! The team of creators currently stands as ourselves, OffTheBarFM, SadPanda333 & FMAdvancedPlaymaker.
Just as a reminder of our 3 rules or to anyone who is new to The Far East Express, we run it this way to keep the exciting and flowing season to season for each player.
- A trophy must be won at the current club before moving on to a new club or league.
- To keep the next player guessing, no direct updates regarding results or moves can be given outside of each players chosen way of broadcast.
- When you take over on your turn, you can do whatever you want with the squad. Buy/sell who you want, change the tactics, the staff…treat it like your personal save!
The great manager Cha Bum-Kun (Cha Boom) had an amazing start to his time in this country, taking over Negeri Sembilan with 6 games to go and gained promotion to the Malaysian Super League (MSL). Whilst it was a second place finish and not a trophy, it shows good promise of potential success this season.
In part 1 of season 7, pre-season will be looked at including the transfer window and then its straight into the competitive league season, featuring the Malaysian FA Cup as well. The league runs from the end of January to the end of July in Malaysia so it’s a quick sharp season with little room for error. We’ll cover around the first half it in this one so let’s get right amongst it!
Coming into a new season, the board will make their expectations known and it was no different here.
Defensively solid football isn’t an issue as a tactic focused on possession is used, over time the tactic has been tweaked to aid the defence when opposition win the ball and counter. With the 5 year plan, signing players to sell for profit remains but there isn’t really big money flying about in the lower ranked countries of Asia.
Avoiding relegation is pretty standard after promotion but hopefully some smart signings in the transfer window can at least propel us towards mid-table however, developing the best youth system in the country will be a tough one as despite the generous budgets in terms of transfers, the club to seem to be struggling with the running costs of the club each week. I mean when you have a 40,000 capacity stadium to maintain with only 737 season ticket holders at around £13 each, it’s always going to be a struggle.
There was one change in the backroom as a new Chief Scout joined the recruitment team after the old chief’s contract was ran down – big improvement in this area for sure.
In the off-season Cha Bum-Kun carried on his coaching development by starting his National A licence course.
Now this isn’t really club news as such but a heartbreaker in some senses and for the rest of the players of the save as when I was looking for cheap players in Indonesia, I clocked something I couldn’t believe…
Our first love Tiga Naga have been relegated in the same season that Cha Boom left. A hellacious season as they lose 18 games after the departure with minimal wins. All that work for 5-6 seasons and the next manager ruined it all!
The youth intake drops around October time which was in the off season and it looked to be a very promising intake at that.
Some very good players there who can develop to be future first teamers potentially. Siong Ling Soh is a full back who isn’t too far away from the first team out of this bunch of the players, the lad is already being touted for a Malaysia U19s call up without barely playing any professional football.
The Transfer Window
This particular transfer window occurs during pre-season, closing just before the start of the league season essentially giving the chance to get the type of squad wanted in place. Safe to say quite a few new names came through the doors and some familiar names as well…
First up was young right winger Farizal Zamri who was signed on a pre-contract basis from Kuala Lumpur as Cha Boom continues to steal their players. Zamri will provide cover for SAS Husni and gives a different option being an inverted winger. Farhan Jalaludin joined for £20k from MPL side Kelantan. At only 17, Jalaludin already possesses 16 reflexes and tons of room to develop in other areas – he will be a first team starter. A couple of free transfers followed in central midfield in Sean Gan Kanang and Tae Su Gurulu, both young midfielders with Kanang being a ball winner and Gurulu more of a playmaker.
Then the biggest fee paid for a familiar face as Dico signs for £29k from Tiga Naga! After their unfortunate relegation Dico had a relegation release clause which will hopefully be well worth the money. Two more free signings came in, first was Muhd Haiqal Samad who is capable of playing 5 different positions within midfield at 21 years old – still some developing to do though and one more familiar face in Jimmy Sudarma who was easily the best defender at Tiga Naga. Sudarma refused a new contract after their relegation allowing Cha Boom to reunite with him. The last signing was S. Mohd Khirudin for £3.5k from MSL rivals Terengganu who will provide cover in attacking midfield and up front.
In terms of outgoings there was a lot but the majority were on pre-contracts. As stated in the last episode, arguably the best player at the club Muhd Yusri Mohamad rejected to stay in favour of MSL giants Johor DT. The rest was a clear out from the overloaded under 21s, more or less players who were viewed to not be future first teamers and a couple of first teamers who were judged to not be good enough. Although Kuala Lumpur picked on a few scraps as payback for us depleting their squad in the past!
Edging closer to the start of the season, pre-season is where all the work is put in to prep for what lies ahead. No tactical change, the 4-4-1-1 tiki taka still remains after it lead the team to promotion however, as time goes on the formation may need to evolve to potentially a 4-3-3 DM which is a better setup for tiki taka as long as you have the squad for it.
Let’s see how the great Negeri Sembilan got on with a busy fixture list with all different kinds of tests in terms of the oppositions that were played.
Generally is was average. Average because of the three games that did not produce a win. 0-0 draws with KL Rovers & Felcra who are Malaysian Premier League sides (tier below) and a reality check against fellow MSL side PJ City which resulted in a 4-2 loss.
Of course the new signings were in full flow in pre-season but for Cha Bum-Kun, he couldn’t help but think if the sudden promotion was coming at a cost potentially. Still, competitive football is rarely played like a friendly.
The main thing is, just before the season gets underway Cha Boom completed his National A licence qualification.
As the season is vastly approaching, a view at the season preview made for an interesting read in what the media judge as Negeri Sembilan’s standing in their MSL return.
For a promoted side, 50/1 is not bad at all. There is a few rivals/derbies in this league in Selanhor, Perak & Pahang so there could be some cracking games there. Although losing to the team in pre-season who are far away at 600/1 was even more mind boggling now!
These two months are combined as there was only one league fixture in January, meaning 5 in total. The side get amongst the Malaysian FA Cup as well and you should all know by now that I love a cup competion!
It was a tough first games against second league favourites Sabah but Cha Boom’s win run continued with the boys bringing a 2-1 victory! A competitive debut goal for defender Jimmy Sudarma with a bullet header but Sabah equalised five minutes after. But AA Rahim scored a goal of the season contender carrying the ball through the oppositions half before cutting inside and wrapping it in the top corner from 20+ yards! Great start to the season.
Next up, fierce rivals Pahang were welcomed and the party went on with a big 2-0 win in the derby. You’ll all remember SAS Husni from last season, well he got the game going before Jimmy Sudarma got a goal for the second game running, again heading in from a corner.
A big test in facing Johor DT who are the big boys in Malaysia. An early blow going a goal down in the fourth minute really took the wind out of the sails as Cha Boom’s men struggled to get into any rhythm. This ended as a 1-0 loss.
Fellow promoted side Kuala Lumpur was the next challenge but it wasn’t meant to be for them as Cha Bum-Kun’s side secure a 2-1 win. Brazilian playmaker Dico got his first goal for club as did miss-firing striker Deraman finally after signing last summer. Kuala Lumpur scored late on but it wasn’t enough for them.
A disappointing 1-1 draw with early strugglers Penang was the next game, despite taking an early lead through the king of headers Jimmy Sudarma, complacency kicked in allowing Penang to take a share of the points.
The last match of February was an Malaysian FA Cup match against ATM who are in the third tier of Malaysian football. An early scare as Cha Boom’s side went 1-0 down but last season’s top scorer Zainal Azman scored a brace including a penalty to turn it around for a 2-1 win.
All things considered, it’s a very decent starting and beating some tough teams in there. To only lose 1-0 to the league favourites shows signs of promise and hopefully the team will progress as the season goes on. The league is close after five games as expected, Negeri Sembilan currently occupying 4th place.
March and April is one of them weird times in Asian football where there is just a random 3 week break in the middle of it all, could be due to weather as its a part of the world that get monsoons but it can be frustrating as it makes the season very stop/start. Before the break there was one league match and the other in the FA Cup to contend with in March.
The league match was against Melaka who seem to be a solid mid-table MSL team looking at past seasons. But it was Negeri Sembilan’s day as a Zainal Azman finish gave Cha Boom’s men a narrow 1-0 victory. A tough match all in all but sometimes one goal is enough!
Malaysian FA Cup action now and it was against rivals Pahang who Cha Bum-Kun has already got one over in the league.
What the f…! A first half collapse leaves Cha Boom decorating the dressing room with water bottles at half time and whilst there was some fight back through Mohd Khirudin & SAS Husni, it was not enough and CBK’s side crash out of the cup early doors with a 3-2 loss. Very disappointing as this was a winnable game.
Some friendlies were booked to bridge the gap between competitive fixtures to keep the team going and getting the work in, it wasn’t anything outstanding but it kept the team ticking over.
When it got back to competitive football in April, it was 3 league games against a good mix of opposition.
First up was Felda United who were going well in the upper part of midtable. It all came down to one decisive penalty early in the second half which went in the right favour as Dico despatched calmly to give a slender 1-0 victory. A gritty match and yes it was a dubious penalty decision from the referee but you take what you can get in football!
Relegation favourites PJ City were up next but they proved a solid test with the boys bringing home another close 1-0 win. It was famed winger SAS Husni with the goal in the 9th minute but it made the rest of the match nervy for sure as Cha Boom’s side could not find another goal but luckily were not punished for it.
A bore 0-0 draw followed against Terengganu after a very unconvincing performance from both teams as there was not a notable highlight amongst this game. The goals seem to be drying up which may be a cause for concern but you have to trust the process with Cha Bum-Kun’s management!
Jimmy Sudarma picked the MSL April Player of the Month with some outstanding performances at the back, easily been the best player for Negeri Sembilan so far this season, doing the work at both ends of the pitch.
A very promising start after nine games, occupying second place and only a point behind the unbeaten Johor DT. All things considered, the team are performing well and really taking to the standard of the MSL.
Up next, the rest of the league season will be completed but there is also the crazy end of season transfer window as well which can make all the difference for some teams. There will also be a new competition within the season that we learn about which has a different qualification route to say the least!
Make sure you check out the other content creators on the links below;
OffTheBarFM – Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/offthebarfm – Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWTLmf7GIQMgraZxoanKQXg
SadPanda333 – Blog site: https://www.sadpanda333.co.uk/
FMAdvancedPlaymaker – Blog site: https://fmadvancedplaymaker.co.uk/
Thanks as always for reading guys, I’m still really enjoying my stint on this save and I hope you all are too. Part 2 will be here soon but until then make sure you all take care.