LionsXII forward Khairul Amri is looking forward to the duel with international teammate Baihakki Khaizan when he returns from suspension to take on Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) II this weekend.
After watching Safuwan Baharudin struggle upfront in the 1-1 draw against Kedah FA last weekend, Amri could do nothing but empathise with his teammate from the stands.
“It’s really hard, Kedah is not an easy team to beat you know,” the 30-year-old said after his side’s training session on Wednesday evening.
“It’s not like they can be walked over. Even if I was playing, I might have some problem trying to get past their defence.
“I really wanted to play in that game, but I couldn’t. I thought we did well enough to win at least 2-1, but in the end we only got a point.
“It’s definitely a wasted opportunity, given that we’re playing at home.”
Set to return straight into Fandi Ahmad’s starting 11, Amri is ready to make up for lost time as far as the Malaysia Cup is concerned.
The forward missed the 2013 edition as he was playing for Tampines Rovers in the S.League that season and was also out of action for five out of the six group games in 2014 after fracturing his cheekbone against Felda United in their tournament opener.
Amri warmed up for this upcoming fixture against JDT II by scoring two goals in a 7-1 thrashing of the National Football Academy (NFA) Under-18 side on Tuesday evening.
“Definitely no player want to sit out matches,” he said. “For now, I really want to keep myself fit and play the remaining group matches; no more injuries or anything.
“The Malaysia Cup is a different ball game altogether. Even though more or less, we’re playing the same few teams, but you can see the fire and desire of them.
“It’s like they will give more effort and it makes no difference whether they play in the Super League or a division lower.
“We really need to step up from now on. We know our away form is not really good, so we have to buck up.”
This clash pits former LionsXII men Baihakki and Shahril Ishak against their former teammates once again, with Amri particularly looking forward to his duel with defender Baihakki.
“It won’t be weird lah, we’ve faced each other a few times already,” the veteran, who has scored nine goals in all competitions this season, insisted.
“It’ll definitely be hard to play against such an experienced defender, but we need to find a way past him.
“I’ll do my usual stuff and drop deep to push everyone into the game, hopefully Bai will mark me and leave some holes for them to score.”
Group A is finely poised with all four teams on a point each and Amri is calling on his teammates to turn it up a notch and prevent a second successive group stage exit from the tournament.
“This is football and you cannot predict at times,” he said.
“Just like that FA Cup run, we hope to get that form back where players step up due to injuries or suspensions and do exceptionally well. Against JDT II, we have to go for the win.
“We cannot depend on a 0-0 draw to bring us through and it’s really tough to defend for 90 minutes.”
Photo: Weixiang Lim/FourFourTwocomments