New lease of life for Khairul Nizam

Khairul Nizam at a national team training session at Jalan Besar Stadium yesterday. National coach V. Sundram Moorthy has cited the extra aggression the player brings to the side, as well as his trademark determination to come back from three knee op
Khairul Nizam at a national team training session at Jalan Besar Stadium yesterday. National coach V. Sundram Moorthy has cited the extra aggression the player brings to the side, as well as his trademark determination to come back from three knee operations as reasons why he is being considered for a place in the side to face Chinese Taipei.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

Forward is on Sundram's radar for Asian Cup game against Chinese Taipei, despite injury

Deep into stoppage time, the Lions were staring at a 1-0 home defeat by Myanmar in Tuesday's closed-door football friendly at Jalan Besar Stadium but a young man refused to accept that that was his fate that night.

With virtually the last attacking move of the game, second-half substitute Khairul Nizam delivered an accurate cross for winger Nazrul Nazari to smash home the equaliser to rescue a draw for the hosts.

Although national coach V. Sundram Moorthy is keeping mum about his starting XI against Chinese Taipei in tomorrow's Asian Cup qualifier, he has made no secret that the Home United forward is in his thoughts as the player could be fielded as an impact substitute.

The tactician said: "Nizam is carrying an injury from his last game (with Home) but he is someone who can always be counted on.

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"He brings aggression to the team, you can't predict what he will do with the ball and he can provide great passes."

For the 25-year-old, just to be back playing on the pitch was enough to bring a smile to his face.

"I feel great, better than ever before and it's certainly the best period of my career so far," he said before training commenced at Jalan Besar Stadium yesterday.

  • Match will be live on Facebook

    The Singapore-Chinese Taipei match will be shown by Eleven Sports on Facebook live: www.facebook.com/ElevenSportsSG.

    The match will also be shown live on Eleven Sports' channel Eleven on elevensports.sg, Toggle, StarHub GO! and channel 109 on Singtel TV.

"The team made a lot of crosses (against Myanmar) but somehow, we couldn't score. So I was determined to provide one, and I am so happy that I managed to help my team."

Touted as one of the talents to watch when he was a teenager, Nizam's career thus far has been blighted by three knee operations and a couple of disciplinary issues.

But Sundram recognises the player's battling qualities on the field, saying: "It has been a big battle for him and he deserves credit for trying to work even harder."

While three serious knee operations would have demoralised most players, Nizam kept coming back.

He recalled: "It was a very tough period but I didn't want to give up so easily.

"What really kept me going were the fans, my family... they never stopped encouraging me."

But there is still something that irks the easy-going young man - he has drawn a blank in all his 18 international appearances for Singapore. "Yes, it bothers me (his Lions scoring duck)," he said. "I want so badly to score for my country and I am giving my best in training and matches to show that I can do it."

Singapore and Chinese Taipei are in Group E of the third round of the Asian Cup qualifiers alongside Tajikistan and Bahrain. The Lions started well with a 0-0 draw against the Bahrainis in March.

But Sundram is targeting victory against Chinese Taipei and he will deviate from his usual defensive tactics to grab all three points.

He said: "We have to go out and get the three points. We will push even higher up the pitch."

Should the Lions need a goal, there is a ready and willing volunteer in Nizam to intensify the firepower.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 09, 2017, with the headline 'New lease of life for Nizam '. Print Edition | Subscribe