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Amri wants to score in fourth Suzuki Cup final

" It’s a blessing to have achieved all this, and to score in all those finals, but I really want to win this year’s competition. " - Khairul Amri (above)

No other Singaporean, not even Fandi Ahmad or V Sundramoorthy, nor any other player from the region has achieved the feat.

Very few footballers can claim to have scored in three finals of the same international tournament.

It is why Singapore striker Khairul Amri will always have a special place in the hearts of local football fans.

Amri scored in every Suzuki Cup final he has played in, and on each occasion the Lions went on to lift the Asean crown in 2005, 2007 and 2012.

It would be a perfect way to round off a decade of national team service if the 29-year-old can make it an unprecedented quadruple in this year's tournament.

"It's a blessing to have achieved all this, and to score in all those finals, but I really want to win this year's competition," said Amri, who has made a name for himself for his burst of speed, tricks and spectacular goals.

"I may have scored crucial goals in all three finals, but it is not down to one player to win the tournament. We need to play as a team. Only then will things work out, like the defence keeping clean sheets and attackers scoring goals.

"That was how we won each of our three titles."

Singapore are the defending champions of the Suzuki Cup and are co-hosts of this year's competition, along with Vietnam.
Drawn in Group B, they open their campaign against favourites Thailand next Sunday at the National Stadium at the Singapore Sports Hub.

Amri may be modest about his achievements, but the tributes flow easily and the statistics don't lie. 

Former Singapore coach Radojko Avramovic, who guided Amri and the rest of the Lions to the three regional triumphs, once said: "Amri is someone Singapore football will rely on a lot in the future."

With 88 caps and 22 international strikes, half of which were scored over the last two years, the LionsXII star is indeed Singapore's most dependable goalscorer.

INJURIES

If not for various injuries to his hamstring, knees and feet which led to an incredible 68-month international goal drought after scoring the superb winner in the 2007 final in Thailand, Amri would most certainly have been a 
centurion and added at least another hatful of international goals to his 
tally.

But he remains thankful that there have been more celebrations than tribulations.

And he is also grateful to have been mentored by Avramovic, who handed Amri his international debut against Oman in 2004.

"My relationship with him is like Sir Alex Ferguson with Cristiano Ronaldo," the attacking star quipped.

"Sometimes it just seemed like he was asking so much of me to the point like he was picking on me, but he knew exactly what my strengths were, how to use them and how to get me in the right frame of mind.

"I used to be more of a show-boater, but he taught me to keep things simple and to pick the right time to do all the tricks."

The Lions, coached by German Bernd Stange, have been drawn in a tough group as they look to defend their Asean crown in front of their own fans.

Besides the favourites Thailand, they will take on Myanmar and arch-rivals Malaysia.

Myanmar has become a huge game, because Avramovic is now guiding them.

Amri says he will be all business against his former coach - Avramovic is the only coach to win the Suzuki Cup three times - but will never forget the Serb's role in turning him into a successful professional footballer.

Right now, Amri, who weighs 69kg, wants to shed two kilogrammes to reach his weight in the victorious 2012 campaign.

Even though he soared like a salmon and showed impressive hang-time to nod in the second goal in Thursday's 2-0 friendly win over Laos, Amri said: "I feel heavy and my reaction seems a bit slow.

"I think I need to lose some weight so that I can be faster and more agile."

A decade after he burst to prominence, Amri is still scoring freely - he has accounted for four of the nine goals the Lions have scored this year - although he admits that his greatest opponent, and biggest motivator, is Father Time.

"Even when I was injured, I was sure I would come back. But when I see people like (Aleksandar) Duric retire, I am sad and scared that my time will end soon ," he said.

"Time has passed so quickly. In 2004, I wanted to show I can make the cut, and I scored against Indonesia in the final on my first start.

"In 2007, I wanted to prove that I deserve to be Singapore's main striker, and I banged that one in against Thailand in the final.

"In 2012, I was the main striker even though I just came back after being out for almost two years through injury, and I justified Raddy's faith in me.

"This year, I just want to make the most of the opportunity to win another title so that at the end of the day I can say I have had a fulfilling career."

Singapore will play their final tune-up game against Cambodia at Yishun Stadium at 8pm on Monday night

FACTFILE

NAME: Khairul Amri Kamal

BORN: March 14, 1985

HEIGHT: 1.72m

WEIGHT: 69kg

POSITION: Forward

INTERNATIONAL CAPS: 88

INTERNATIONAL GOALS: 22

CURRENT CLUB: LionsXII

PREVIOUS CLUBS: Gombak United, Persiba Balikpapan, Tampines Rovers, Young Lions

HONOURS: 2004 Tiger Cup, 2007 AFF Championship, 2012 Suzuki Cup, 2013 S.League

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