Khairul Amri joins Malaysian Super League club Felda
Tampines striker, 34, given 'special exemption' to sign for Pahang-based side
Tampines Rovers will have to take on Hanoi FC for a spot in the AFC Cup Asean zone semi-finals next week without veteran striker Khairul Amri, who has left them to join Malaysian Super League (MSL) club Felda United.
The transfer was announced on Tampines' Facebook page at 5pm yesterday.
The New Paper understands that the 34-year-old had his first training session with the Pahang-based club yesterday after signing a 1½-year deal.
Tampines said on their Facebook page: "This has not been an easy decision to take, with the club's ambitions in the AFC Cup of key importance and an exciting Singapore Premier League (SPL) season ahead in the next few months.
"Ultimately this is a move that makes sense to the player and his family at this stage in his career and given this, the club has decided to make a special exemption and allow Amri to take up this move."
Amri, who has scored eight goals in both SPL and AFC Cup campaigns for the Stags this season, could not be reached for comment.
But he wrote on his Instagram and Facebook accounts: "Although (Tampines) were reluctant to let me go when the club is challenging for honours, they respected the security that this move will bring for my family.
"I wish them all the success in both AFC and SPL competitions."
Amri posted an image of him hugging Canadian forward Jordan Webb, who was sad to see "the Suarez-type player" leave after playing together for two years.
Webb said: "I look up to him from years past and I'm going to miss him on the field but at the same time, we are happy because we know how at his age… he wants to take care of his family, and you have to be happy for that."
Tampines are fourth in the nine-team SPL, 10 points behind leaders Brunei DPMM but with a game in hand.
This is not Amri's first time in the MSL. He had turned out for the now-defunct LionsXII in 2012, 2014 and 2015.
Top on his agenda will be to help Felda stave off relegation. They are second from bottom in the 12-team table, with just one win in 12 games.