PETALING JAYA: Yashir Pinto did not hesitate for one second when he was approached to sign for Negri Sembilan.
This is because Pinto, who was born in Santiago, Chile, but plays for the Palestinian national team, considers Malaysia to be his second home as he has played with Super League teams since 2016.
The well-travelled footballer, who has had stints in Canada and Indonesia, joined Negri from Thai League’s Khon Kaen United after a two-year spell.
“It’s not just because my family likes it here but the league has also become more competitive. I enjoy the playing atmosphere here,” said Pinto, who played for Melaka (2016) and Perak (2017),” he said.
“PKNP were the last club I played for in Malaysia in 2020, so I was excited to come here again and didn’t think twice when I got the offer from Negri.
“I had the opportunity to play in Thailand but Malaysia is always the first choice.
“I was pleasantly surprised when I arrived in Seremban, the quality of the imports is good. Herold Goulon (France) is a pillar of strength in the defence, in addition to Matheus Alves (Brazil), Omid Nazari (Sweden) and Gustavo Almeida (Brazil).
“Even Syihan Hazmi (goalkeeper) and Khuzaimi Piee (defender) have shown excellent performance that earned them places in the national squad, so all these factors have helped Negri to progress a lot this year,” said the 31-year-old and 1.85m-tall winger.
Negri are currently third in the standings on 23 points after 13 matches.
Sabah are second with 28 points behind Johor Darul Ta’zim, who lead with 32.
Pinto has scored two goals against Pahang (3-0) and Terengganu (2-1) in five appearances for Negri so far.
Negri will travel to play Selangor at the MBPJ Stadium tonight and Pinto admitted that a tough task awaits them as their opponents have yet to lose at home.
“Selangor are difficult to play at their own den and I anticipate an intense match. We will be out to maintain the top three position,” he added.