Failed foreigners, insufficient preparation led to Negeri Sembilan's demise
Negeri simply were not prepared for the MSL
The Seremban-based side were not even supposed to compete in the top flight this year after finishing fifth in the 2017 Premier League. But they got a surprise invitation after Terengganu FC II were demoted after being made feeder club to Terengganu FC (feeder clubs can’t compete in same league as parent club), along with Felda United FC who failed to obtain their club registration. Simply put, Negeri were not prepared for the big boys league. Their horrendous start, which included one win in the 11 matches, set the tone for a forgettable season.
Too many coaches meddled with the team
Negeri started the season with Jorg Steinebrunner, but the former Germany Under-21 defender resigned after only five matches. Former Kedah double treble winning coach Azraai Khor was then brought in to chart their fortunes, only to be shockingly sacked after five matches and without a valid reason. Portugal’s Mario Lemos was then brought in as a last ditch effort to save the team, but it was more cash and resources wasted as he failed to make any substantial impact. The Negeri management may have forgotten that new coaches come with new philosophies and tactics, and it takes time for the team to understand and implement on the pitch. Too many changes too fast was Negeri’s downfall.
New foreign players failed to make an impact
The MSL is nothing without the volatile nature of clubs changing their foreign players every few months, and Negeri kept that tradition alive by changing two of their foreigners in the May transfer window. Brazilian defender Alex Moraes replaced Latvia’s Renars Rode, while Filipino hitman Angel Guirado was brought in for Cambodia’s Prak Mony Udom. But both men failed to make a contribution. Moraes was signed from Pahang FA despite not fully fit, while the 33-year-old Guirado only managed one goal so far. While Nicolas Velez and Flavio Beck did the business for Negeri, the team needed all their foreigners firing in all cylinders to stand a chance of staying up.
Four wins, 14 losses is relegation material any day
You read that right, Negeri have only won four matches all season. Four. Never in the history of any league where a team has survived in a league with only four victories. Not after they have also lost 14 matches. Not in a professional league any way. Negeri had only beaten Kuala Lumpur FA, Kelantan FA, PKNS FC, and Selangor FA. The rest of their score card were marred in red. To put it into statistics context, Negeri had won the least games and lost the most matches, along with Kelantan who were also relegated. That is a sure-fire recipe to get relegated, I tell you that.
A leaky defence never gave them a survival chance
When a team starts leaking goals as much as an intoxicated person needs to visit the toilet, it will set the tone for a disastrous campaign. In total, Negeri have conceded 44 goals in the MSL after 21 matches. That’s an average of over two goals a game. That tally is also the second worse in the league, behind Kuala Lumpur who conceded 49. But at least the City Hawks made up for it at the other end by scoring 39. Negeri had scored only 26 goals all season. No chance of staying up.