National Team - Lions ● Sep 10, 2018

Captain Hariss pleased with positive mood in Lions camp


– The Lions might not have got off to a winning start in the Fandi Ahmad era, but there were many positives to take away from their 1-1 draw last Friday at Bishan Stadium against a Mauritius side ranked 14 spots above us by FIFA.


There was plenty of attacking endeavour from Singapore – an aspect Fandi has emphasised on since taking over in May – and Captain Hariss Harun was happy with what he saw for a start.


“I think during the game and before the game, you can see that the boys were fired up and really wanted to do something and achieve a good result,” he told the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) website.


“Our intent going into the game was really positive. We would attack as a team… Mauritius, you can see that they are a physical side and we tried to press them, win the ball as high as we can and tried to get the goals.


“After the game, you could also see that in the bus (on the way back to the hotel), everybody was (singing and in good spirits)… we were being positive and looking forward. You can see that the atmosphere was really good.”


The 27-year-old believes that the harmony has stemmed from day one of training last Monday, when the team officially gathered together for this international window, which will conclude with a friendly against Fiji tomorrow evening.


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There has been a lighter touch to the daily sessions, with plenty of smiles around as the newer faces in the team – including first-time call-ups Zulfadhmi Suzliman, his brother Zulqarnaen and Jacob Mahler – were integrated in the senior set-up.


“I think the mood has been very positive… training sessions have been very focused on a lot of cohesion,” Hariss said. “The team has been together and it’s really nice to see everyone getting along with each other.”

Zulfadhmi and Zulqarnaen turned in bright performances on their debuts, while Mahler and Hami Syahin are expected to get their bows against Fiji and Hariss noted the importance of helping younger players like them settle quickly in the team.


“I try my best to get the young boys together,” he said. “When it’s their first time with the team, they are a little nervous and shy; I was the same when I first came in.


“We know that these are the boys who are going to continue carrying the team forward in the next 10 to 15 years. It’s my job, together with the rest of the senior boys, to help them integrate into the team and our way of doing things here and show them what it means to play for the team, so this baton can be passed on.


“It was more intimidating than (it is) now… but when I came in (at 16) we had nice guys, good guys as well. There was Aide (Iskandar), Mani (S. Subramani) had just retired so I didn’t have the chance to play with him, we had Noh Rahman.


“Hassan (Sunny), Bai(hakki Khaizan), Shahril (Ishak) – all these boys were still around, Ah Long (Noh Alam Shah) was there as well, so I think it’s the same for me now that (I am in the same position as these players were) when you have the likes of the Suzliman brothers, Jacob and all these young boys coming in.


“When you feel comfortable and feel at ease off the field, then you can go out and do your job on the field… It’s only been a week or so since we’ve been together, so we have to see how it goes in the coming months how it goes. The Suzuki Cup is close, two months away, so we have to treasure every minute we have together.”


Most fans have reacted positively to the injection of youth and the attacking football on show against Mauritius and the sentiment has not been lost on the players according to Hariss, who asked for patience as the new-look Singapore side makes progress after disappointing results in recent times.


“Previously, we could see that the fans were getting a bit impatient and frustrated but they are right to feel that way because they’re passionate and they support us,” he said.


“As Singaporeans, they feel a lot for football, for our team and that’s a positive thing – and now, it was a positive performance. We didn’t really get the result but I think it’s still a good start in this new era, new management and I hope that the fans will keep supporting us all the way.”


Hariss was also quick to acknowledge that there is still a lot of room for improvement, particularly in terms of being ruthless with the opportunities created, as they target victory against Fiji tomorrow.


“It wasn’t a perfect performance or a perfect result for us,” he said. “We were disappointed in the sense that we didn’t get the win because we had created a lot of chances, but we didn’t put away the chances to get the goals that we needed.


“I think Fiji will be another physical test for us so we have to maintain the same mentality and improve on our performances in the coming game.


“We have to go into every game confident of ourselves, confident in our teammates and believe in each other; then, we can try to do something. Football after all is 11 (men) on the field plus the reserves who come on to make a difference, so we have to believe in each other and trust that we can do something together.”