LionsXII snag stags ace

Khairul Amri

For years now he has thrilled capacity crowds with his spectacular goals. He has suffered a couple of serious injuries, which threatened his career.

Khairul Amri, 28, has been through much in football.

For the next chapter, he will return to Jalan Besar Stadium and attempt to light up the LionsXII next year.

The LionsXII have captured one of Singapore's top forwards from S-League champions Tampines Rovers for their next Malaysian Super League (MSL) campaign.

It is believed Amri is so far the only player with the LionsXII recruited from an S-League club that is not the Courts Young Lions.

The Singapore international signed a two-year deal on Tuesday and will boost the reigning MSL champions, who are set to lose stalwarts like defender Baihakki Khaizan, midfielder Hariss Harun and forward Shahril Ishak to moneybags Johor FA.

Amri, who has just picked up his first S-League winners' medal with Tampines, told The New Paper: "I want to thank Boss (Tampines chairman Teo Hock Seng) for his continuous support for Singapore football and also my career.

"I really appreciate his help and the fans' support through my highs and lows.

"I'm excited about this new challenge, as well as the future, with so much hype about the ASEAN Super League.

"I know the coach has not been appointed yet, but I'm confident the FAS will pick the right man and we can all work together for the success and development of Singapore football."

The LionsXII coaching position has not been filled after V Sundramoorthy left for Negeri Sembilan.

The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) will name the successor by the end of next month.

In their two seasons in the MSL, the LionsXII have not had a prolific striker - set-pieces and Shahril were their main source of goals - and will definitely count on Amri to bang them in on a regular basis.

Amri, who played for the LionsXII last year when they finished second in their inaugural season, said: "Hopefully this time I can contribute more this time."

INJURIES

Frequent injuries to his groin, hamstring, knee and meant he never really made an impact in his debut season for the LionsXII.

After regaining his fitness, he struggled to rediscover his scoring touch and confidence as he fought fears of another injury.

Amri made his MSL debut in May last year.

He went on to clock five more starts, of which the LionsXII won just once - a 2-0 victory away at Felda United - when he failed to get on the scoresheet.

But his class gradually told.

He scored twice in nine Malaysia Cup matches as the LionsXII reached the semi-finals - bowing out to ATM - but it was at last year's Suzuki Cup where he truly shone.

Displaying his appetite for the big occasion, Amri scored in a Suzuki Cup final for the third time as Singapore became four-time ASEAN champions.

And in his last 17 internationals, the 1.72m pocket dynamo has grabbed eight goals, including recent efforts against Syria and Laos.

"It feels like the old me is back. The fear is gone and I would love to win the MSL and even the Malaysia Cup," Amri said.

davidlee@sph.com.sg


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