Striker Amri fit to lead LionsXII's charge
LIONSXII v SELANGOR
(Tonight, 7.30pm, StarHub TV Ch 112/205 & 76.25MHz)
Khairul Amri mixes entertainment and frustration in equal measure.
The 30-year-old striker has scored spectacular goals in three Asean football championship final victories for Singapore, but has also suffered a catalogue of injuries.
The latest came just two weeks ago, when he picked up a calf injury in the 2-1 win over Felda United.
It led to Amri missing three Malaysian Super League (MSL) matches, including away defeats by Terengganu (4-2) and Johor Darul Ta'zim (1-0).
But the LionsXII ace has declared himself fit ahead of tonight's MSL clash against Selangor at the Jalan Besar Stadium, where the hosts have to win to improve their chances of a top-four finish.
"I feel as if the injury did not occur, even though I started training only yesterday," said a buoyant Amri before yesterday's session, at Serangoon Stadium because Jalan Besar was used for the Lion City Cup.
"I can still improve on my strength, power and sharpness."
By his high standards, Amri will feel disappointed with just two league goals this season, although he did grab five to help the LionsXII to a fairy-tale Malaysian FA Cup triumph.
Overcoming strong teams like Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang has Amri believing that his team can beat any MSL team on their day.
He said: "Selangor will be a very important match for us and we have to win if we want to finish as one of the four top seeds for the Malaysia Cup.
"By beating Pahang 4-2, we showed we can carve out a result against any team in the MSL. I would love to come back, score and help our team get all three points again."
In the corresponding fixture last season, it was Amri's bullet header in the 95th minute that helped the LionsXII beat Selangor 2-1.
Coach Fandi Ahmad also confirmed his star striker will start tonight.
TEAMS FEAR AMRI
The 53-year-old said: "Amri works very hard for the team and he is our leader up front.
"He holds up play well, he creates and he scores. His pace and tricks put fear in opponents.
"Yes, he has had some injuries and he is not getting any younger, but we still have faith in him.
"He can still put in a great shift for us for at least 60 to 70 minutes."
With just three league matches to go, Fandi's team sit seventh on the table and are three points adrift of third-placed Selangor and fourth-placed Terengganu, who have better goal differences.
Fandi feels that anything less than a victory will all but dash their top-four hopes. The good news is, the LionsXII have always bounced back from every loss this season with a positive result.
In addition to a 13-match unbeaten home run, they have also never lost to Selangor at Jalan Besar.
"We will have to bounce back from the JDT loss immediately," said Fandi.
"We need maximum points to keep the competition for third and fourth place open.
"Selangor are a good side, but we need to focus on our strategies in attack and defence to get a good result."
- PROBABLE LIONSXII LINE-UP: Izwan Mahbud, Faritz Abdul Hameed, Madhu Mohana, Shakir Hamzah, Hafiz Abu Sujad, Izzdin Shafiq, Zulfahmi Arifin, Safuwan Baharudin, Nazrul Ahmad Nazari, Khairul Amri, Faris Ramli.