Amri raring to go

Amri raring to go
File photo of Khairul Amri playing against ATM.

He is still haunted by memories of the 2012 Malaysia Cup, and can vividly remember the moment that saw a place in the final morph into defeat - and elimination.

But Khairul Amri is ready to lace up his scoring boots, determined to set things right this time out, when the LionsXII open their 2014 Cup campaign in Group A against Felda United tonight.

Johor Darul Ta'zim II and Pahang are the other two teams in the group.

"That semi-final against ATM was a nightmare. I kept blaming myself for not keeping the ball in the corner," he said, recalling the semi-final second leg at the Selayang Stadium.

Having drawn 1-1 at home, and leading in the return fixture after a 27th-minute Agu Casmir goal, the LionsXII were just seconds away from victory.

Amri had the ball on the right wing but, instead of seeing the game out, he attacked the opposition goal, lost the ball and watched as it went up the other side of the pitch and into the net, off the head of Marlon James.

The Singapore side eventually lost 5-4 on penalties.

"I'm determined to do well this time and I will work hard on the pitch - starting with this game that we must win," added the Singapore international striker.

Hunger

The LionsXII started the year as Malaysian Super League (MSL) champions, but managed only an eighth-placed finish in the 12-team competition in a poor defence of their crown.

Said Amri: "This is a new tournament and we want to start afresh. We don't want to see any of that poor league form, only the hunger that we now have.

"I scored seven goals in the league, but I can do better - I must do better in the Cup."

With Sufian Anuar suspended for tonight's fixture, and Shahfiq Ghani yet to break his duck this season, Amri will have to bear most of the team's scoring responsibilities.

"I definitely do feel the pressure to get goals, but the fact is that there are many players in this team who can score," said Amri.

"I've been happy with how I've stayed injury-free this year, and I'm ready for the responsibility."

The 29-year-old hailed the new-found spirit in the squad which he believes will drive them forward, starting tonight.

"We've had some team-bonding sessions these last few days, and it feels like a new squad," he said.

"We're united, and now we have to transfer that feeling out onto the pitch (tonight)."

"This is a new tournament and we want to start afresh. We don't want to see any of that poor league form, only the hunger that we now have."


This article was first published on August 13, 2014.
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