Rejuvenated Nizam eyeing further progress

LionsXII forward Khairul Nizam wants to build on his recent goalscoring form and return to the national team fold as soon as possible.

The 23-year-old has started the last six games for the LionsXII, scoring three in the process.

The latest strike came against Sarawak FA on Saturday night, a goal that eventually proved to be the match-winner.

It has been a delightful sight for fans to witness the renaissance of Nizam, who had endured a difficult time with injuries over the past two years – going under the knife no less than three times.

Speaking to assembled media after the match, he revealed that the lengthy rehabilitation process nearly made him give up on the sport but he eventually pushed on with encouragement from his team mates and family.

“It’s been tough for me because I got back-to-back injuries,” the forward said. 

“After I come back, I got injured again so that’s not easy. It’s very tiring and I can always feel the pain on my body. I can’t do anything but just watch the games.

“I’ve to just to sit outside and keep waiting which made me feel like wanting to give up, but my family, fans and friends kept telling me not to give up. That helps me a lot to think positive because they never gave up on me.”

Nizam is also grateful to coach Fandi Ahmad’s faith in him as he set his sights on earning a national team recall for the upcoming 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

“I’m happy that coach (Fandi Ahmad) still believes in me and gives me a chance,” he said.

“I just hope to prove to everyone that I’m capable of playing in the first eleven at LionsXII. It feels really great now that I can show the younger players that no matter how long you’re out for, just work hard and don’t give up because no one will give up on you.

“Of course every player is targeting to play for the national team and I’ll work hard for it.”

Nizam's goal against Sarawak also showed his predatory instincts in the penalty area as he reacted the quickest to a rebound to nod past opposition keeper Mohd Fadzley Rahim, after seeing his initial shot come off a defender.

“I just tried to flick it to the far post because there were men at the near post,” he explained 

“(After the deflection), I didn’t expect the ball to come back to me so I just head the ball. Basically there’s a small angle (between keeper and post) so I just try to hit the target; that’s all.” 

This also marked the second time in four days that Nizam and his half-brother Khairul Amri had combined to devastating effect - something which he hopes to build on.

“It feels really great (to play alongside him upfront),” he said.

“It’s easy for us because we can communicate well and can get the understanding. Hopefully there’s no more injuries for me and we keep doing well very game.”