Nizam's return a boost for LionsXII

Khairul Nizam (No. 10) during a LionsXII training session on Nov 20. His return from a knee injury brings the dual benefit of aerial power and physical strength as he presses his claims for a starting place in the side that will play the first leg of
Khairul Nizam (No. 10) during a LionsXII training session on Nov 20. His return from a knee injury brings the dual benefit of aerial power and physical strength as he presses his claims for a starting place in the side that will play the first leg of the Malaysia Cup quarter-final against Pahang tonight.PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

The LionsXII's strike force will be strengthened by the return of Khairul Nizam to the line-up, as the striker has been passed fit to play after recovering from a knee injury.

In the absence of Khairul Amri, who is nursing a hamstring injury suffered last month on international duty, Amri's half-brother Nizam will be in contention for a starting place in the first leg of the Malaysia Cup quarter-final at Pahang tonight.

And Nizam will be eager to score his first Malaysia Cup goal at the Darul Makmur Stadium.

The 24-year-old said: "As a striker, when opportunities are given to me, I need to prove to everyone that I am deserving of everyone's trust in me and my place in the team. I need to make use of my chances."

Coach Fandi Ahmad is giving little away in terms of his team selection but Nizam, known for his aerial power and physical strength, will compete for a starting place alongside finisher Sahil Suhaimi and the hardworking Sufian Anuar.

Nizam took a knock on his right knee during training last month, adding to his long history of injuries. But when he is on the pitch, the striker has given fine performances this season.

He netted three times for the LionsXII in the Malaysian Super League, including a spectacular scissors kick in a 1-1 draw against Selangor in August at Jalan Besar Stadium.

The lanky forward also scored twice in the LionsXII's Malaysia FA Cup-winning campaign.

For now, Nizam is glad to be back on the pitch again. He said: "It's frustrating for me (to be injured), but I'm happy to be back in the team, healthy and playing.

"I just need to work hard and hopefully be able to continue to play."

Alvin Chia

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 24, 2015, with the headline 'Nizam's return a boost for LionsXII'. Print Edition | Subscribe