Kelantan striker: 'I'll destroy the LionsXII'

Kelantan striker: 'I'll destroy the LionsXII'
ALL OUT: Kelantan dangerman Iwuji Amamchi (left) admits he is not fully fit, with what seems like a knee issue, but has vowed to beat the LionsXII tonight.

Kelantan striker Iwuji Amamchi walked into the Bukit Jalil Stadium like he owned it.

To be sure, the 22-year-old Nigerian who joined Kelantan only last month, virtually dragged his team back from the death in the second leg of the Malaysian FA Cup semi-final last week.

Trailing 1-0 from the first leg and coming on with the score at 1-1, he turned the game on its head with two brilliant strikes to destroy Pahang.

And he is looking to do the same against the LionsXII in tonight's final at the Bukit Jalil Stadium.

"I like that word, destroy," he said, running his fingers along his chin.

"I want to destroy the LionsXII, yes.

"Against Pahang, it felt great to bring the team to the final. (It was) a game that we could have lost. That was a rescue mission."

His inspiration? The Kelantan fans.

"In my whole playing career, I have seen a lot of fans, but I've never seen any like the Kelantan fans," he said.

"These fans never give up, they keep cheering for us even though we are down. If the fans don't give up, how can you, as a player, give up?

"I promised the fans that (tonight) we're not going to fail them."

While it is Kelantan's red army that has added fuel to Amamchi's fire, his teammates do not need any added motivation.

"It is very important that as Malaysians we win the trophy - it's about pride, national pride," said coach Azraai Khor Abdullah, who believes that playing against a Singaporean side is motivation in itself.

"Can you imagine how shameful it'll be if the cup is taken out of the country by a Singapore team? We have to keep it in the mainland.

"That's the same feeling that all my players have."

Azraai counts Amamchi as a potential match-winner.

"He came last month for trials and, apart from being young, he's got speed, power and good technique," said the 62-year-old.

MATCH-WINNER

"He can be our match-winner.

"He's only 22 and, when players like these are young, it's much easier to motivate them."

Azraai is spot-on with that. Amamchi was overwhelmed by fans' support from the first moment he stepped on Kelantan soil.

"The day I arrived here, there were already fans at the airport waiting for me - they welcomed me really well, I even saw my picture in the papers," he said.

The good news for the LionsXII is that Amamchi is still struggling with injury and is admittedly not fully match-fit.

He said: "I'm ready, (but) not ready. I can't play 90 minutes, but I can play."

Whether Amamchi can last the full 90 minutes, the LionsXII are not taking any risks.

"We need to double-team him," said central defender Madhu Mohana, who has his own battle cry for Amamchi.

"Physically, we will lose out against these bigger strikers. So we have to help each other out, and we are used to it because all Malaysian teams we play against have a big striker these days.

"He can say what he wants, but we are all confident - and we are ready for battle."


This article was first published on May 23, 2015.
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