National Team - Lions ● Nov 10, 2018
Hariss: Our hard work paid off, but we need to stay focused
SINGAPORE, 10 NOVEMBER 2018 – An influential performance from captain Hariss Harun helped the Lions to an impressive 1-0 victory over Indonesia in their ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup 2018 Group B opener last night at the National Stadium.
Apart from scoring the winner with a stunning first-time volley from 15 yards, Hariss exemplified the graft and grit shown by the rest of the team.
The box-to-box midfielder covered almost every blade of grass, going in for every tackle with great fervor and intensity and was named Man of the Match.
While it was rewarding to see the team’s hard work in the preparation stages pay off with victory, Hariss was keen for Singapore to stay grounded ahead of equally tough challenges in the upcoming matches against the Philippines (12 Nov) and Timor Lester (21 Nov).
“I think we really needed this,” the 27-year old Johor Darul Ta’zim midfielder told assembled media after the match. “It is good to have some momentum on our side but we have to remember that this is just three points.
“We have not done anything; we should stay humble and focused. We need to be really respectful (to our upcoming opponents) and work really hard; in fact, work (even) harder now.”
Head Coach Fandi Ahmad hailed Hariss’ performance at the post-match press conference, saying: “He was a solid captain today. He scored the goal, he was our engine room and fighting for every ball with Izzdin (Shafiq); he was everywhere, he wanted to win so badly.”
As the Lions continue their quest for a record-equaling fifth AFF Championship, they can rely on a new-found source of goals from their skipper.
Hariss, who scored five goals in 82 caps before this year, has now netted four times in five internationals in 2018. This includes a goal in each of his last three matches and he is the Lions’ top scorer this year.
“I am just very grateful that the goals are coming now and that I am able to help the team,” he humbly said. “During training, we do a lot of attacking drills and we try to finish all our moves… But to be honest, it really doesn’t matter who gets on the score-sheet as long as the team wins.”
Hariss, who is playing in his fourth AFF Championship, constantly puts the team first ahead of personal glory. During the match, he could be seen encouraging his teammates – especially the younger and more inexperienced members. He sees this as his responsibility as a senior player.
“The coach can only do so much – he can set us up, give us a good plan and strategy,” he said. “But on the pitch, we (senior) players have to take charge.
“We have a good mix of youngsters in the team who are playing their first tournament at the international level. So we have to help them out. It is a process – I had senior players like Fahrudin Mustafic, Aide Iskandar, Indra Sahdan and Noh Alam Shah and now we (senior players) just (have to) continue this process.”
As the Lions prepare to face the Azkals on Tuesday in Bacolod, Hariss believes that the team can build on the momentum from last night.
“Before the game against Indonesia, we emphasised on how important it would be to get a positive result – especially so playing at home in front of our fans (in order) to… get the fans to back us,” he said. “For the next game, Philippines may have the advantage playing at home in front of the home fans and they are well rested, but for us I think it is great that we have this result (to give us confidence).”