SINGAPORE - No one will blame Khairul Nizam for thinking he is cursed.
The 22-year-old LionsXII striker will miss next month's South-east Asia (SEA) Games in Myanmar after succumbing to yet another injury.
Singapore will go into the Under-23 tournament as one of the medal contenders, but Nizam's absence will limit coach Aide Iskandar's options up front.
Nizam was despondent when he confirmed the news with The New Paper yesterday.
He said: "I woke up one morning last month and my left knee was swollen.
"I felt no pain, but the doctors said there was some cartilage problem and warned I could even have to go for surgery.
"I'm demoralised because I have been out for about a year now and, if I go for another operation, I could be out for another six months. "I'm sad and frustrated because this would have been my last SEA Games and now I can't be part of it."
Long touted as the country's next top striker, Nizam's career has been blighted by injury.
He made his debut at the biennial Games in 2009, when he scored the opener in a 3-1 win over Laos in the battle for bronze.
In Indonesia two years later, he also scored the equaliser to steer Singapore to a 2-1 win over Cambodia.
After undergoing surgery on ruptured ligaments in his left knee last year, he aggravated the injury when his nephew accidentally jumped on it, setting back his rehabilitation process by another five months.
Nizam made his much-awaited comeback for the LionsXII in a 3-1 win over PKNS FC in a Malaysian Super League clash at the Jalan Besar Stadium in May, coming on as an 81st-minute substitute and scoring after just nine minutes.
It suggested that he had shaken off his injury woes, but now his dream is in tatters.
Coach Aide admitted the striker's absence would be a "big loss", as he plots to lead his charges to a top-two finish in a group which includes Vietnam, Brunei, Laos and two-time defending champions Malaysia.
Said the 38-year-old: "We will miss his strength and aggression because he gives us the physical presence up front.
"Nizam is a huge talent, but very unlucky with injuries. I just hope he remains positive as he is still young and still an asset to the national team.
"I wish him a speedy recovery and hope he can come back for the LionsXII next season and, most importantly, be ready for the Suzuki Cup at the end of next year."
Aide has named a provisional 30-man squad for the SEA Games, and the former Singapore captain will have to rely on other forwards to step up.
"We will miss Nizam but this gives an opportunity for the other players to fight for a spot in the final 20-man squad," said Aide.
"We have Shahfiq Ghani, Syafiq Zainal, Sahil Suhaimi and Iqbal Hussain, who are all training well and looking sharp.
"If the need arises, there is also the possibility of (defender) Safuwan (Baharudin) playing up front, too."
Injury-jinxed Singapore striker to miss next month's Myanmar Games
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