Amri set to defy doctor's orders

LionsXII striker Khairul Amri is set to start in the crucial Malaysia Cup game away against Terengganu FA despite being advised to rest and recuperate from a hamstring strain sustained during international duty last month.

Amri was supposed to be out for three to four weeks after suffering the injury while taking a penalty in Singapore’s 2-1 home win against Cambodia in the World Cup/Asian Cup qualifiers on October 13.

However the 30-year-old returned ahead of schedule to join full training a week ago and is set to be the focal point of Fandi Ahmad’s attack when they take on Terengganu FA at the Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin Stadium on Wednesday night.

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This is despite advice that this match will come too early for the extent of his injury.

“As much as we want to listen to the doctor’s advice, it really depends on how’s the player feeling and his confidence levels,” LionsXII coach Fandi Ahmad said.

“So far Amri’s doing well in training so we’ll leave it to him. If he is comfortable to play even for half a game, it’ll be useful.

“Also we’re preparing for the national team’s upcoming qualifiers against Japan and Syria, so it’ll be good to see how he can cope in this match.”

Amri himself admitted that the rehabilitation process had been tough but is eager to return to competitive action.

“It was really tough for me because I was totally out for at least two weeks,” he told FourFourTwo.

“To kick-start my engine again towards the end of a tiring season is a bit hard, but I have the qualifiers in my mind also and I really want to play against Japan.

“I’ve missed so many big games this season, including the two league games against JDT (Johor Darul Ta’zim), so I don’t want to miss another one. Like what coach Fandi has said, it’s based on my confidence and I’m feeling good to go right now.

The striker will have good memories of Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin Stadium, having scored a delightful brace in a 3-2 defeat against Terengganu in the second leg of the Malaysia FA Cup semi-finals back in May.

Though the LionsXII lost on the day, the two away goals were enough to send the team through to the final where they ended up lifting the trophy.

This time round, the all-Singaporean outfit will progress to the last eight of the Malaysia Cup as long as they avoid a defeat of more than two goals, but Amri knows that the task will not be easy.

“I tell you, it’s a really tough place to go to man,” he said.

“It’s always difficult to play there (in front of 40,000 odd fans) but nonetheless you can never write us off. We’ll play our best and hopefully God will handle the rest.”