Here we are then my people, after two seasons conducting The Far East Express, this episode will see the end of my stint before I handover to FMAdvancedPlaymaker for his first involvement on this journey – no pressure lad!
Back in Part 2, the league season was finished and a very respectable second place was obtained, which in turn brought continental qualification in the AFC Confederation Cup (The Asian football version of the Europa League) but in this part the Malaysian Cup competition will be presented. This is the last chance for our manager Cha Bum-Kun (Cha Boom) to potentially grab some silverware this season so it will all be on the line!
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!
Youth Intake 2027
It’s nearly time to get stuck into the Malaysian Cup but first the youth intake arrived for our viewing.
Not bad at all! I usually don’t have much luck on saves with intakes but I’ll take this one. Azman Ahmad definitely has the potential to move into the first team next season and being only 15, time is more than on his side. Muhd Hafizi Shahri also has the potential to go for but as a group of players, if they develop towards their potentials – their future could be very bright!
Malaysian Cup Group Stage
A quick reminder of the teams within Negeri Sembilan’s group which features two other Malaysian Super League (MSL) sides and one high flying Malaysian Premier League (MPL) side.
The first fixture for Cha Bum-Kun and the team was close league rivals Sabah. It was an edgy game but the boys came through with a narrow 1-0 win. Both teams had their fair share of chances but attacking midfielder Shafizi Iqmal Mohd Khirudin struck on the 80th minute to get some early points in the group.
Next was PJ City, the team who ended our title charge late in the league season. PJ City took the lead early on but a shocker of a challenge in the area got Negeri Sembilan a penalty, with new defender Mohd Shafiq Ghazali converting it in Dico’s absence. Then a rare goal for ball winning midfielder Sean Gan Kanang in the 47th minute was enough for a 2-1 victory.
It was a travel to face MPL side Kelantan United who looked very good holding Cha Boom’s men to a 1-1 draw. It was former miss-firing striker Deraman who gave Kelantan United the lead (classic FM) before midfielder Joshua Nisbet saved the blushes of an upset loss.
Into matchday 4 and it was the return game against Sabah. However, after a struggle to make some clear cut chances, Sabah took advantage late on in the 86th minute leading to a 1-0 loss for Cha Boom.
A cracker of a match was on its way in the return fixture with Kelantan United, with the game ending in a 3-3 draw. It was 1-1 at half time – striker Zainal Azman with the goal and then a frustrating second half chasing Kelantan Utd as they went 2-1 up before SAS Husni equalised, shortly after the opposition took the lead again before Jimmy Sudarma headed home for another share of the points.
With a precarious 8 points in the group, the final group match had to be treated as must win. Negeri Sembilan may be top (Just!) but a loss could send Cha Boom’s side crashing out depending on other results.
The opponents were PJ City who can cause problems on their day. It was a closely fought match and looked to be heading for a draw with the shots and possession stats more or less matching each other. A corner is taken very late on in the 94th minute, it’s missed by all at the near post and bounces across the 6 yard box….ZAINAL AZMAN VOLLEYS HOME!!! In the closing depths of the game, Negeri’s striker comes up clutch securing a 1-0 victory! Absolute scenes I tell you!
With that very late and much needed victory, that guarantees Negeri Sembilian top spot and Sabah will go through too after holding the very impressive MPL side Kelantan United to a draw.
After some goal struggles in the group stages, Cha Bum-Kun made the decision to stick with tiki-taka but advance the wingers up the pitch creating a 4-2-3-1 formation. This was in a bid for the wingers to directly link with the advanced playmaker allowing better chance creation.
From the group it’s straight into the quarter finals, which like the semi finals if reached is a two legged affair. The team being faced is fellow MSL side Kuala Lumpur who narrowly avoided relegation in the league season.
Away for the first leg, it started brightly with captain AA Rahim firing Negeri into an early lead but Kuala Lumpur hit back just before half time. The opponents really took full backs Ghazali and Ishak to the cleaners as they ran the wide areas but no further goals came, the first leg ending 1-1.
Home advantage now…or so they say as the second leg started a very cagey affair with chances coming few and far between. There was a breakthrough however, as midfielder Joshua Nisbet struck low from the edge of the box to put Negeri Sembilan 1-0 up. A sense of control was there from the boys in the second half, often frustrating Kuala Lumpur which led to a 1-0 victory, going through 2-1 on aggregate.
Getting to the ultra serious rounds of the competition and being one step away from the final, it’s getting very real now. Club rivals Selangor stand in Cha Bum-Kun’s way of a first final in Malaysia. Selangor also won this competition last season so the heat was definitely on!
The first leg was at home and a positive result was key for second leg momentum however, it was a cagey game full of yellow cards meaning the football on display was poor which ultimately led to an unwanted 0-0 draw.
To make matters worse, Selangor left their mark on on captain AA Rahim, ruling him out for any future games in this competition.
But this wasn’t the end of the injuries, as if losing the captain wasn’t enough, two more starters fell to training injuries in SAS Husni & Sean Gan Kanang. This means the team are without both influential and starting wingers and our starting ball winner in midfield.
The show must go on though and it was time for the second leg. Away for this tie with no aggregate goals, on top of the three key players missing – you could say Cha Boom is up against it in this one. Although, fear not as the team do not collapse, instead they go at Selangor and really put the pressure on in the first half. The minutes wind down to half time and then DICO POPS UP TO TURN HOME A CROSS!!! 1-0 up into half time. Selangor give it a bit in the second half but the Negeri Sembilan defence stands strong, not allowing the opposition to get through and then the final whistle sounds….1-0 victory on aggregate – Cha Bum-Kun is off to another final!
The game was set but it wasn’t against who you’d expect in a team like Johor DT or Sabah, instead MPL side KL Rovers had done the unthinkable and navigated their way to the final. KL Rovers amazingly knocked out Johor DT in the quarters before dealing with another MSL side in Terengganu, with this kind form they are not going to lie down for Cha Bum-Kun’s side.
The board showed some support before the final which gave some confidence to Cha Bum-Kun and put the great manager at a level of ease in terms of pressure.
Now it just so happens the game falls at KL Rovers’ stadium but what’s home advantage at a final realistically? Regardless both teams will put it all on the line.
The first half was mostly Negeri Sembilan in terms chances and possession with some promising signs but ultimately a much needed first half goal didn’t come, meaning it was all to play for in the second half.
At the start of the second half, KL Rovers had a bit more fire in them maybe they got some confidence from not conceding in the first half, whilst they had only made half chances a low cross was made from the right but the striker lays it off wide on the 6 yard box and Song-Jin Appavoo fires KL Rovers into the lead – 1-0 (58th min)!
Shockwaves were sent through the Negeri Sembilan players as Cha Boom ferciously shouts from the side line. A free kick high and wide on the right is won and Mohd Izzudin Harun steps up to deliver it, an in-swinging ball into a crowd of players and up jumps A. SHIVAN PILLAY…GOAL! 1-1 (62nd min)! All to play for but the score doesn’t change meaning 1-1 at FT and extra time is required.
Cha Boom had saved a couple of subs for extra time but the game became sloppy as both teams continuously gave away the ball in good areas as the game just filtered out. 1-1 AET meaning the lottery of penalties would decide the fate of the game.
KL Rovers step up first…ITS WIDE!
FARIZAL ZAMRI steps up for Negeri Sembilan…slotted calmly into the bottom left – 0-1.
KL Rovers second penalty…JALALUDIN DIVES THE RIGHT WAY AND SAVES!
S. MOHD KHIRUDIN with a short run up…fires high into the net – 0-2.
KL Rovers need this one…great penalty to be fair, right in the top banjo – 1-2
Time for the goal scoring centre back Jimmy Sudarma…oh it’s absolute sauce, little paneka down the middle. The audacity of it, oozes absolute class! – 1-3
KL Rovers need this to have any sort of chance…Jalaludin dives correctly but the ball creeps into the corner – 2-3
Zainal Azman with a chance to be the hero for Cha Bum-Kun, he steps up…sends the ‘keeper the wrong way and into the corner! – 2-4
ITS ALL OVER, NEGERI SEMBILAN WIN THE MALAYSIAN CUP 2-4 ON PENALTIES!!!
Emotional scenes as Cha Bum-Kun secures his third domestic trophy on this stint in management and has now won a trophy in each of the last 3 seasons. Once you get one, sometimes you really can’t stop!
All credit to the efforts of KL Rovers though, what a story for them to the reach the final and take an MSL side all the way to penalties and to be fair they did knock out one of the favourites too.
The fans enjoy the success and give thanks to the man in charge, showing how strong the connection is between the supporters and the manager.
The board also showed their delight with Cha Bum-Kun, after pulling off what was an unlikely win at the start of the competition.
Of course the trophy win means Cha Boom is free to move to another club/country however, you can’t help but feel there is potential to bring home his first league title in his quest right here in Malaysia. That’s the fun of this project though, you really don’t know what to expect!
Despite this season’s successes, the finances aren’t great. The classic situation of the gate receipts not replicating what is needed to cover player wages and running costs of the club. The AFC Confederation Cup may bring in some much needed revenue and bonuses next season but for this club to progress properly, it must start earning better to allow for general improvements that will take Negeri Sembilan to the next level.
Due to the low money this meant that the club vision of developing the best youth system in the country failed as their was not enough in the bank to invest in the specific areas.
End Of Season Review
Well it’s time to mark the end of DP-FM’s double season stint and what a fun two seasons it has been but before I handover to FM-AP, let us all enjoy the 2027 season review!
As mentioned, the save will now go over to FMAdvancedPlaymaker for his first stint in control of The Far East Express and experience the depths of Asian football! DP-FM’s Louis due to be back amongst it in season 9 (subject to change) too so it will be interesting to see where we will be by then.
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/
Thoroughly enjoyed my second stint on the save but it is now time to get back to my personal projects on FM21. Some new bits will be coming up soon so until then, take care!