SINGAPORE- With two goals in three Malaysian Super League (MSL) matches so far this season, LionsXII striker Khairul Amri has already equalled his tally for the team in their maiden year in 2012.
But the talented 28-year-old, whose goal sparked the Singapore side's revival in their 2-2 draw with Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) on Tuesday, warned he is not at his best, yet.
Speaking to The New Paper yesterday, Amri said: "It has been a dream start for me so far, and frankly, I am quite surprised to have already scored two goals in the league.
"As you can tell, I am still not match-fit and injury-free at the moment but it's good to get games under my belt.
"The matches are now over and I am just focusing on my recovery and the next game," added the Singapore international, who was substituted in the second half of the LionsXII's MSL opener when they lost 1-0 to Pahang in Kuantan.
He was rested in the team's 3-0 FA Cup win over Malaysian second-tier outfit DRB-Hicom earlier this month, but returned in the best possible manner when his last-gasp bullet header against Selangor at the Jalan Besar Stadium last Saturday propelled the LionsXII to a 2-1 league win. Another header on Tuesday means it's two goals in two games for the striker.
His form is in stark contrast to his first LionsXII stint in 2012, when injuries meant he played just 351 minutes over six MSL matches in the 14-team competition, with no goals to his name.
He fared better in the Malaysia Cup that season - playing 535 minutes over nine games and scoring twice in the LionsXII's campaign, which ended at the semi-final stage.
It has not gone unnoticed that the pacy forward, who won the Great Eastern-Yeo's S-League title with Tampines Rovers last year, bagged both his league goals this year via headers.
Asked about his new-found aerial prowess, Amri laughed and said: "I didn't do anything special in training, but Fandi (Ahmad, LionsXII coach and former international striker) told us to anticipate the ball, not react to it.
"That is what I am trying to do."
On facing former LionsXII teammates Baihakki Khaizan and Hariss Harun - the duo played for JDT on Tuesday - Amri said: "It was really awkward because they've always been my teammates...
"But we are all professionals and know that anything that happens on the field is nothing personal as we were just doing our jobs."
Amri has been elevated to senior -player status this season in Fandi Ahmad's team, along with captain Isa Halim and vice-captain, Safuwan Baharudin.
But Amri says he still has some way to go to prove he is worthy of being a "core" player in a side with an average age of 22.5 years, the youngest in this season's MSL.
He said: "It is still very early in the season and I am still trying to find my feet. I need to keep putting in solid performances before I can say that I am one of the 'core' players in the team."
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