LionsXII: Amri set for Selangor return

LionsXII forward Khairul Amri can’t wait to get back on the field after missing the last three league games due to a calf strain. 

With just two goals in 14 league appearances all year, Amri was eagerly looking forward to the return to Malaysia Super League (MSL) action in August, which featured seven games in the space of just 20 days.

But before he could start racking up the goals, he found himself on the receiving end of a poor tackle by Adib Aizuddin Abdul Latiff in LionsXII’s 2-1 defeat of Felda on August 2, limping off after less than 30 minutes on the pitch.

Little did the 30-year-old know the injury would rule him out for the next couple of weeks.

“Initially I thought it was a hard knock that would take at most three-to-five days to recover,” he told FourFourTwo after his side’s training session at Geylang Field on Thursday evening.

“But it took longer because of the swelling. My calf muscle was so tight that there’s no more space to expand already; it feels like a rock sia!”

That added to the frustration of Amri, who had hoped to feature in all seven games in August and improve his less-than-impressive scoring record.

“That game … I’m not putting Felda down, but I was thinking of scoring two-to-three against them,” he recalled.

“I told my mum and my wife ‘I’m all geared up for this’. When people asked me about my aim for the next seven games, I told them I want to stay injury-free and score more. But that’s football, the first game back I kena!”

In a bid to accelerate his recovery, Amri resorted to receiving cupping therapy which was advised by club physio Nurhafizah Sujad. The unorthodox treatment involves a local suction being created on the skin, which mobilises blood flow to promote healing.

“It was shiok lah,” commented the national team forward.  

“I was limping before the therapy, but after that I felt better. Of course it’s not just that, but also the massages and treatment from the medical team which definitely helped me a lot.”

Now back in full training, Amri is eyeing the opportunity to end a frustrating season on a good note.

“As a striker, I always love to score more but it doesn’t always go as planned,” he mused.

“This season we’ve played a lone striker system where I need to hold the ball and bring people into play. After I release them and they cross the ball, I can’t always be in the box.

“It’s a bit hard, but I play for the team. I’m OK with assisting the rest as long as the team keep winning.”

Saturday evening’s home game against Selangor FA should give Amri some good memories, with the forward memorably heading home in the 95th minute to give his side a 2-1 win in this fixture last season.

Selangor’s 1.99m defender Robert Cornthwaite will play no part in this game due to a broken cheekbone, but Amri is refusing to take a victory for granted.

“Selangor being Selangor, they’re always up for it against us,” he said.

“They’ll have other good players to cover for him, but I’m really looking forward and eager to score again. Football is like that, maybe one goal going in will kick start everything.” 

Photo: Weixiang Lim/FourFourTwo