Amri will play key role

The 2-0 victory over Felda on Tuesday was very crucial.

It was important to see how we would react after the Kelantan defeat.

People have said that we didn't play well against Felda, that we didn't control the game.

But I prefer to look at the final score and the Malaysian Super League standings, where we are still on top.

It was also a key game for Khairul Amri, who made his first start for the LionsXII this season.

I saw how happy he was after the game, even though he played for just over an hour.

Of course, we all know he wasn't at his best. But after two operations - on his knee and ankle - and 11 months out of action, there's bound to be rustiness.

During the warm-up, I told him: "For the first 10 minutes, don't try anything fancy.

"Control the ball, pass and move. Don't stay static or you'll get kicked and injured again."

He played to instructions.

I could see he wants to repay the coaches for our faith in him.

He's starting to enjoy football again, shouting and getting involved during training.

I think he will be back to his best after another six games.

What are we hoping for from Amri?

To use his skill and experience and be a game-changer.

To score and create goals for his teammates.

All the usual stuff we've come to expect from him over the years.

Patience bearing fruit

Why do you think head coach V Sundramoorthy and I have been so patient with him all these months?

He will play a big part in this team.

I've said before that the LionsXII need six more wins to lift the Malaysian Super League trophy.

The loss against Kelantan has changed the complexion of the title race, but my earlier statement still stands.

Kelantan won the league last season with 56 points. So, whoever reaches that mark, or surpasses it, will win the title.

We have to win our remaining matches this month (against Kedah, KL and Sarawak) and secure a top-two position.

Terengganu, Selangor and Perak are still within touching distance, so we must race clear of them.

Seven matches for us and 11 matches for Kelantan mean there's still a long way to go, and I'm sure Kelantan will drop points from now until the end.

Just look at Manchester United. They were cruising towards the Premier League title until the loss to Wigan and draw with Everton changed everything.

All it takes is two games.

While we take on Kedah, Kelantan's game against PKNS tomorrow is a tricky one. PKNS need to avoid defeat or they will drop into the bottom two.

Next month, Kelantan also have tough matches - at home to Selangor and away to Negeri Sembilan.

So let's not worry about them yet.

Let's win on our end first, then we will see.

It's not do-or-die yet.

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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