Nizam vows to rediscover scoring touch

LionsXII forward Khairul Nizam wants to put things right against Terengganu FA on Wednesday night after admitting he lost sleep over his series of missed chances against Felda United. 

Summoned from the bench just before the half-hour mark to replace half-brother Khairul Amri when the scores were still locked at 1-1, Nizam found himself at the end of an excellent opportunity to put his side ahead just three minutes later.

Latching on to a defence-splitting pass by Shakir Hamzah, the 24-year-old found himself with only Felda keeper Farizal Harun to beat. However he took a tad too long to pull the trigger as the latter managed to palm his fierce effort away.

That was just one of the chances the LionsXII forward spurned, although it ultimately mattered little as the Singaporean outfit ran out 2-1 winners courtesy of Faris Ramli’s superb winner.

With Amri unlikely to recover in time for Wednesday night’s clash away at Terengganu FA, Nizam is poised to start as the lone forward in coach Fandi Ahmad’s favoured 4-5-1 formation.

Speaking during the LionsXII training session at Geylang Field on Monday evening, Nizam admitted he needs to sharpen up his finishing skills ahead of the crunch game.

“That (the misses) brought me down a lot and I couldn’t really sleep that night,” he said. “I really need to improve on my finishing, focus more and be more confident in front of goal. Also I have to work on my match fitness and work hard to play as a team.”

So far it has been a good season by Nizam’s standards, after injury reduced him to merely a bit-part player over the past three campaigns. He has since managed to stay fit for majority of the year – making 11 appearances and scoring four goals in all competitions, although the last came three months ago in the first leg of the Malaysia FA Cup semi-final against Terengganu.

“Yes, I think this is the best year for me in a LionsXII shirt,” he said.

“Usually I only play two-to-three games (a season), but this time I played more and scored more. I feel a lot more part of the team now that I’ve contributed more.”

After a run of three straight wins in the Malaysia Super Legaue, LionsXII are now sitting fourth with a chance to move into the top three. The task will not come easy though, as they will play in front of a daunting crowd at the Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin Stadium which will be baying for their blood.

The last time the two sides met there, the LionsXII players and coaches left the stadium at nearly 3am. The Federal Reserve United (FRU) was called upon to release tear gas to disperse approximately 15,000 rioting Terengganu fans who were angry at their side’s failure to reach the FA Cup final.

However Nizam is keen to focus solely on matters on the field.

“What their fans want to do is not our problem,” he insisted. “We just have to focus on the game and we’re going into it feeling confident. We have to get at least one point from this game.”