Nizam delighted with LionsXII return

LionsXII striker Khairul Nizam has expressed delight after returning to the starting lineup following recovery from keyhole surgery on his knee.

Unexpectedly given the nod over Sufian Anuar, Nizam impressed in a 45-minute cameo during last night’s 2-2 draw with Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) II and hopes to recover in time for Friday’s crunch clash away against Pahang FA.

The 23-year-old seized the rare opportunity to start as he ran his socks off in an all-action display, creating the first goal for Hafiz Sujad after just 38 seconds.

It was his first appearance since April 15 after undergoing surgery for a torn meniscus and he was clearly happy to be back on the pitch again.

“I only found out on Monday that I’m playing,” he told FourFourTwo after the game.

“Coach told me after training that I’m going to start, so I was feeling a bit nervous and excited.

“What I needed to do was the help the team and at the same time, to prove that I’m ready to play every game. I think I did my best to show that and I’m happy to provide an assist.”

LionsXII head coach Fandi Ahmad was also glad to see Nizam coming through unscathed.

“I’m just happy for him,” he said at the post-match press conference.

“We’ve been talking to him for the past few days, as well as working with Sasha (fitness coach Aleksandar Bozenko) and Fizah (physiotherapist Nur Hafizah Sujad).

He said he want to try and help the team tonight, so we gambled and he did just that. He created some good chances, made some good runs, kept the ball for link-up play till he cannot go on anymore.”

Given that it was his first game after a long while, Nizam readily admitted that he was still lacking match fitness and is hopeful that he recovers in time for Friday.

“It was a bit tough for me out there tonight,” he shared.

“I still need match fitness as you can see, so I’m taking this step-by-step. Right now, I’m a bit nervous because I’m not sure how fast I can recover.

“I just have to wait and see my condition when I wake up tomorrow.”

“I hope his knee is not swelled up,” Fandi echoed.

“Hopefully he can recover in time and play another half in Pahang.”

Photo: Weixiang Lim