Amri and Faris out to make impact against PDRM
Amri and Faris, used as subs against ATM, hope to make an impact as starting strike duo tonight
PDRM FA v LIONSXII
(Tonight, 10pm, Shah Alam Stadium, Live on StarHub TV Ch 112/205 & 76.25MHz)
They watched on helplessly from the bench for most of the LionsXII's 1-1 draw with second-from-bottom ATM FA in their Malaysian Super League (MSL) match in Paroi on Tuesday.
Rested by coach Fandi Ahmad, Khairul Amri and Faris Ramli were eventually thrown into the fray, for the final 30 and 20 minutes respectively.
But the LionsXII's star attacking duo could not conjure anything special in that time.
The two are set to be reinstated in the starting 11 tonight, when Fandi's charges take on PDRM FA at the Shah Alam Stadium.
And they're out to make an impact.
Amri, the team's main striker, has had a difficult season.
While his work rate is never in question, the 30-year-old has scored only once, a beauty in the 2-2 draw at Perak.
He told The New Paper of his frustrations watching on the sidelines.
"I wanted to be out there on the pitch," said Amri, who has shown flashes of brilliance throughout the season despite his poor returns.
"I thought, if I had started, maybe I could have helped the team lead by two goals and then, maybe, I could be taken off.
"But coach Fandi knows better and he probably wants me to be fresh for this game.
"Now, I'm hungry. All I want to do is get out there and make my mark."
Faris, who is the LionsXII's leading scorer in the league with three goals, is struggling to rediscover the early-season form which made him such a handful for MSL defences.
The 22-year-old, who was part of the Singapore Under-23 team's ill-fated SEA Games campaign earlier this month, admitted he needed a rest.
"Coach Fandi told me he could see I was tired and he was right," said Faris.
"I've travelled a lot and played many games this year.
"But now, I'm not suffering from fatigue any more and I'm ready to push myself to the limit again.
"It's time to prove to him that I'm back to full fitness and I'll prove it tomorrow."
Despite the disappointing result against ATM, Fandi does not regret starting his two key attackers from the bench.
He hopes it will pay off tonight, but warned that PDRM, who are fifth in the 12-team MSL and are the league's highest scorers with 26 goals from 12 games, will be up for it.
"They will be very tough," he said.
"They brought in an attacker, (Portuguese-born Timor Leste international) Jamie Braganca, and that guy is very dangerous.
"He's big, strong, and likes to run with the ball, like Yaya Toure."
Fandi was dealt a late blow when midfielder-turned-centreback Zulfahmi Arifin rolled over his right ankle in last night's training session.
The 23-year-old was taken to the hospital for an X-ray as a precautionary measure, and is doubtful for tonight's match.
Zulfahmi's omission means Fandi has to rejig his line-up, but he insists the game plan remains the same.
Said Fandi: "We have to be a bit more conservative and play on the counter-attack. We cannot afford to play as open as we did against ATM.
"The pitch at Shah Alam is huge. Plus, with almost the whole team fasting, energy levels will be low. It'll be a real fight tomorrow."
- PROBABLE LIONSXII LINE-UP: Izwan Mahbud, Nazrul Ahmad Nazari, Madhu Mohana, Shakir Hamzah, Hafiz Abu Sujad, Gabriel Quak, Izzdin Shafiq, Safuwan Baharudin, Faris Ramli, Khairul Amri, Khairul Nizam
"We have to be a bit more conservative and play on the counter-attack. We cannot afford to play as open as we did against ATM."
- LionsXII coach Fandi Ahmad, on tonight’s match against PDRM
By the number
24 PDRM FA have the most porous defence in the league after 12 games. They've conceded 24 goals, averaging two a game.
- Sarawak v Felda (9.45pm)
- Selangor v Terengganu (10pm)
- Sime Darby v Perak (10pm)
- Pahang v Johor Darul Ta'zim (10pm)
Cops, please don't flip-flop
He was known as the "Million Ringgit Man" in his playing days, after Selangor made a RM1 million ($400,000) bid to sign him from Kuala Lumpur FA in 1993.
But, of late, former Malaysian international striker Azman Adnan isn't exactly feeling like a million dollars.
The 43-year-old (above) is now head coach of PDRM FA, who host the LionsXII tonight at the Shah Alam Stadium in Selangor.
The Cops, as his team are known, were champions of the second-tier Malaysian Premier League last year.
While they are not faring too badly in the top flight - they are fifth in the 12-team MSL with 12 games gone - Azman's charges are on a dreadful run of three consecutive defeats, to Pahang (twice) and ATM FA.
But Azman insists he is not worried.
"Yes, we have lost our last three games, but I'm satisfied with how the team performed in those matches," he told The New Paper yesterday.
"You have to look at it from all aspects, and I feel my players showed the commitment and fighting spirit I expect of them."
Scoring goals is not a problem for PDRM. They boast the MSL's leading scorer, the Malian former Lokomotiv Moscow striker Dramane Traore (11 goals), and the talented Maldivian forward Ali Ashfaq (six).
The team's leaky defence, though, is a major concern.
They have shipped 24 goals in 12 matches, making them the most porous team in the league.
It turns out their first meeting with the LionsXII, in the first week of the MSL season, was a hint of things to come.
Fandi Ahmad's side won 5-3 after romping to a five-goal lead in just over an hour, before PDRM responded with a Traore hat-trick.
Said Azman: "Even though we have two Malaysian international defenders, my backline has been too lax and careless.
"I've told them for the need to keep their focus, and, hopefully, they'll be up for it against the LionsXII this time."
Consistency also seems to be an issue for PDRM. They are capable of beating the top guns and losing to the strugglers.
On Feb 14, they defeated defending MSL champions Johor Darul Ta'zim 1-0, and they followed it up one week later by notching the biggest away win this season with a 4-0 thumping of Kelantan in Kota Baru.
But, following that, they have slipped up against the league's bottom sides.
On March 17, they contrived to lose 4-2 at cellar-dwellers Sime Darby. Earlier last month, they were also beaten 3-1 by struggling ATM FA.