When he puts on the national team jersey of Singapore, Khairul Amri has been a thorn for Malaysia in many previous meetings. But the striker is also well remembered for making big splashes in the domestic football in Malaysia, first with Lions XII and now with Felda United.
Lions XII featured for three seasons where they not only picked up the 2013 Super League title but also went on to lift the 2015 FA Cup trophy. Amri was part of the team that did the latter, creating history at Bukit Jalil National Stadium at the expense of Kelantan.
Now 34 years of age, Amri knows the clock is winding down on him and there's only so many seasons of top flight football left in him. Having had the experiences that he had, he is challenging more of his fellow countrymen to make the move across the border to the Malaysian League.
"What's my wish before I retire from the world of football? Well, I hope to see Lionx XII back in the M-League or more Singaporean players joining the M-League. I have a lot of wonderful memories in the M-League including scoring against Terengganu in the 2015 FA Cup semi-final where Lionx XII went on to beat Kelantan in the final.
"Personally, I'm confident that Singaporean players are capable of competing with any import players. On top of that, it will also benefit M-League to have Singaporean players as that will indirectly raise the interest from the fans over there," said Amri in an interview with Malaysian Football League (MFL).
This season has seen Hariss Harun captaining Johor Darul Ta'zim to another Super League title, Safuwan Baharudin continuing to shine for Pahang at central midfield while Shakir Hamzah has been a revelation at the heart of Kedah's defence, helping them to the 2019 FA Cup triumph.
While Amri's plea to his comrades makes sense, it is also an indictment of the standard and quality of the Singaporean League (S-League). Perhaps there will be even a time in the future when MFL sees it as a win-win situation, that Singaporean players will not be considered import players and thus opening up more doors for players to find a team in Malaysia.
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