Malaysian Super League: In kneed of some luck

Malaysian Super League: In kneed of some luck
Malaysian Super League, Sarawak vs LionXII.

He missed two glaring chances during the LionsXII's 3-1 surrender to Sarawak in their Malaysian Super League (MSL) clash in Kuching last Saturday.

Khairul Nizam was plotting to redeem himself against PKNS at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Saturday, but he has been hit by a serious blow.

The 22-year-old striker has been struck down with a mysterious knee injury, and will be out "indefinitely", according to his coach, Fandi Ahmad.

"It's bad luck for him," said a resigned Fandi, after Wednesday's training session at the ITE College Central.

"Just when we thought he would soon recover fully, this happens."

Nizam's troublesome left knee has seen him sidelined for around 13 of the last 18 months.

He first injured his left anterior cruciate ligament in Aug 2012, and recovered nine months later.

But in November last year, he injured a cartilage in the left knee.

He recovered on schedule to make his first MSL appearance of the season coming on as a 62nd-minute substitute against Sarawak.

Just hours after returning to Singapore on Sunday, however, he realised his left knee had swelled up again.

"I went home and slept, and when I woke up my knee was swollen," he said.

"I don't really feel any pain in the knee, mostly just stiffness.

"Now, I can kick a ball, but I can't sprint or try moving side to side quickly.

"I'm definitely out for the PKNS game."

The freak injury has dashed his hopes of making up for missing two gilt-edged chances against Sarawak.

In the 88th minute, he completely missed the ball in front of a gaping goal.

Two minutes later, he sent a header wide from six metres out after finding himself unmarked in front of goal.

"For the first chance, I was expecting a firm pass but the one that came was softer and I had to adjust myself," he said, as he recalled the misses on Wednesday.

"I was feeling excited and nervous, and I think that affected me because I missed it when I tried to use my left foot.

"I tried to keep positive and told myself I'd get another chance.

"But when it came, I was a bit too far in front and had to adjust myself again, and I got my judgment all wrong with the header."

Nizam's two misses hit him hard, especially after such a long time away from the game.

He said: "On the pitch, in the dressing room, at the hotel, I was crying.

"That night, I couldn't sleep because that first miss kept playing over and over in my head.

"I want to prove I can be a top striker but to miss a simple chance like that... I know I can do better.

"When I do return, I'll make sure I prove I can do it."

When that return date might be, though, is anybody's guess.

"I wanted to give him another chance in the second half against PKNS," said LionsXII coach Fandi.

"We want him to eventually lead the attack with (team top-scorer Khairul) Amri, because in some home games we can start with two out-and-out strikers.

"But now we have no choice but to wait again until he's back.

"The whole team wish him well and we all just hope he can recover soon and join us as soon as possible."

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