Amri returns to boost LionsXII attack
After a lacklustre opener, Fandi's side aim for a win tonight
JDT II v LIONSXII
(Tonight, 8.30pm, StarHub TV Ch 112/205 & 76.25MHz)
He cut a forlorn figure at the Jalan Besar grandstand, unable to help as his LionsXII teammates struggled to create any meaningful chances in the 1-1 draw against Kedah last week.
Back from suspension, Khairul Amri is hungry to get at Johor Darul Ta'zim II tonight at Pasir Gudang as the LionsXII target a badly-needed win to kickstart their Malaysia Cup campaign.
JDT II, who finished fifth in the second-tier Malaysian Premier League, are the lowest-ranked side in the competition and qualified only after beating Sime Darby 1-0 in a play-off.
"As a footballer, I don't want to sit out any match, whether it is a friendly or a final," said the 30-year-old Amri.
For a player capped more than 100 times by his country, he is desperate to add the Malaysia Cup to his collection.
With the LionsXII's future participation in Malaysia's domestic football competitions still up in the air, Amri, who was part of the team that won the Malaysian FA Cup in May, knows this could be his last crack at the Malaysia Cup.
While Amri hasn't been firing on all cylinders this season, scoring only four goals, he did strike five times in seven games as the LionsXII lifted the FA Cup.
During that run, the LionsXII beat JDT II 2-0 both home and away, with Amri netting in the home leg in April.
"This is a competition I really want to win. We won at Pasir Gudang earlier this year and we would love to repeat the victory. The FA Cup win is the benchmark we have set ourselves and our problem is that we haven't been consistent enough.
"After the Kedah draw, we must get a result and we need to play to the same standard that won us the FA Cup."
Amri brushed off any concerns about going toe to toe against good friends and former teammates Shahril Ishak and Baihakki Khaizan, saying he was looking forward to the showdown.
LionsXII coach Fandi Ahmad is relieved to have Amri available after seeing a below-par performance against Kedah, where he blasted his team for a lack of fire and desire.
The 53-year-old cut a happier figure in training this week, even joining in the shooting practice.
He told The New Paper: "We need someone up front who can cause problems for the opponents, and Amri is one of the best in the region who can do just that.
"He holds up play well and combines effectively with the wingers and midfielders. We definitely missed him against Kedah.
"But this is why I was upset last Saturday. We cannot be just relying on Amri. The other players must step up. Many of them didn't perform and we cannot afford to have passengers in the game.
"JDT II are a different side from the one that lost 2-0 to us. I think they have become more organised and more disciplined, even though I think their attack is so-so.
"We have beaten them before, so we must be positive and motivated to get our first win."
- Probable LionsXII line-up: Izwan Mahbud, Faritz Abdul Hameed, Madhu Mohana, Shakir Hamzah, Hafiz Abu Sujad, Nazrul Ahmad Nazari, Izzdin Shafiq, Safuwan Baharudin, Faris Ramli, Khairul Amri, Khairul Nizam.