He spent more time recuperating from his knee and ankle injuries than he has been on the pitch, and only made his first Malaysia Super League (MSL) appearance last weekend in the LionsXII 0-3 defeat in Kota Bharu to defending champions Kelantan. It has been a tough journey so far for Singapore International Khairul Amri, and all that would end as the two time AFF Suzuki Cup winner looks set for his first start in the MSL as the LionsXII travel to Malacca to take on Felda United on Tuesday evening.
Despite having only less than 20 minutes of game time under his belt, head coach V Sundramoorthy believes that Khairul Amri is fit to go.
“Amri is ready and he had shown me in trainings on what he can do. It is now time for him to show what he is capable on the pitch,” Sundram told aXrosstheline.com.
While it may seemed a little too early for the Singapore marksman to feature right from the start, considering the amount of time he had spent in rehabilitation, LionsXII midfield general Isa Halim echoed his coach’s sentiments and insist that the inclusion of Amri will provide the team with more attacking options.
“He’s back!” Isa told aXrosstheline.com with some delight.
“Amri is a very pacy player and we have to make use of his speed to bring the best out of him.”
“He can also act as a second striker to the team to provide more attacking options as he had shown in the past. I believe his experience will be an advantage to the team” added Isa.
In a shock but confident mood, Khairul Amri can’t wait for the match to begin.
“This is going to be my first start, and I am very happy. I am raring to go, and I am feeling confident about it. We will go all out” vowed Amri.
“After sitting out of action for the past 11 months, I thought it is still a little too early for me to start a game. I was shocked when coach broke the news to me but I would love to repay the faith he has in me”
“I need to work really hard and the focus will be to help the team as much as I can,” Amri said.
Players who have gone out of action due to long term injuries will have phobias when they return, and Amri had similar thoughts on this part of the game.
“It is normal for me to have a little bit of phobia. The pace in training and matches are not the same. In matches, the tackles come flying in from everywhere and this is an area which I need to work on. It will be great if I can get a goal because all these phobias will be gone, I am sure,” said Amri who looks likely to be deployed in the right midfield position.
After a lacklustre loss in Kota Bharu, the LionsXII will be looking to get their title challenge back on track with nothing less than a win and head V Sundramoorthy insist that the title race is far from over.
“Football is a funny game, and if we start winning and Kelantan and Terengganu don’t, it will be good for us.”
“For me, the performance of the boys is important. We need to play well as a unit, work hard together as well as creating enough chances to kill off the games that we play.” Sundram said.
LionsXII will miss the service of Vice-captain Hariss Harun who sustained a shoulder injury and did not travel with the squad to Malacca. Safuwan Baharudin is also nursing a foot injury and he has also been ruled out for the game.
LionsXII probable lineup (4-1-4-1):
Hyrulnizam Juma’at, Juma’at Jantan, Sevki Sha’ban, Baihakki Khaizan, Shaiful Esah, Isa Halim, Khairul Amri, Shahril Ishak (Captain), Shahdan Sulaiman, Irwan Shah, Khairul Nizam