A little bit of kindness can go a long way, even in the cut-throat world of professional coaching…
With his full mop of hair and well-trimmed mustache, coach K. Devan gives the appearance of being one of the nicest guys in Malaysian football.
The well-mannered coach is not only soft-spoken but also friendly and he normally greets reporters with a smile and a handshake after matches.
The 64-year-old has become a huge hit in Kota Baru since joining Kelantan as their new coach ahead of the 2016 campaign.
“Life here is normal but I still need to adapt with the food and lifestyle. People are humble and I guess I am the most recognisable face here as I often get fans requesting for photos with me,” said Devan.
The former Malaysia international started his coaching career with Negeri Sembilan, leading them to the Super League in the 2005-06 season, followed by the Malaysia Premier League title with Kuala Muda in the 2007-08 campaign.
He was also successful with Selangor, guiding them to the Malaysia Super League title and the FA Cup in 2009. After successfully helping Selangor retain their Super League in 2010, he resigned midway through the following season.
Targets must be met and if I do not get the results then I may have to go
Success deserted Devan after that as he had poor seasons with Johor FC, Felda United, Penang and his second stint with Negeri Sembilan.
“I have something to prove in Kelantan after the failures with my recent teams. Frankly, I did not have enough quality players with my former teams and this made it very tough for me to achieve anything,” he said.
Kelantan are an impatient team and have a track record of sacking coaches. Devan will definitely feel some pressure from Kelantan’s hardcore fans and demanding management and could swiftly be on his way out if he does not deliver this season.
“There is always some pressure in football. As a coach, I am used to this. Fans here are as passionate as those in Penang,” the trainer continued.
“The pressure I got from fans in Penang when I was managing the team in 2014 was intense. Targets must be met and if I do not get the results then I may have to go.”
But Devan is confident he can regain Kelantan’s glory days with his current squad.
“Kelantan are passionate about their football. And it will not be easy to satisfy their hunger. The target is a top-four finish in the league and also a cup final,” he revealed.
“We have some quality locals but they need to blend in with the others and form a solid unit.”
It is said that Devan was only a third choice option after former Singapore international V. Sundramoorthy and B. Sathianathan, but the former is not paying attention to speculation and is simply focused on doing well.
“It is great to be back in the Super League after spending two seasons with Premier League sides,” said Devan, a two-time winner of the National Football Award for best coach.
“I also want to regain my winning touch as the last time I led a team to a title was six years ago with Selangor."