AffSuzukiCup2020 ● Dec 21, 2021
Lions look to draw first blood against Indonesia in AFF Suzuki Cup 2020 semis
Hariss Harun, 14 December 2021
SINGAPORE, 21 DECEMBER 2021 – The excitement is steadily building up as Singapore gear up to face Indonesia in the first leg of their ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) 2020 semi-final at the National Stadium, Singapore Sports Hub on Wednesday night.
Having gone on to lift the trophy on four of the five times that they have reached the last four of the competition, the Lions will hope the streak continues as they target a fifth regional success.
But they will not underestimate Indonesia, who lie six places below Singapore at 166th in the FIFA rankings.
Singapore huddle, 18 December 2021
Head Coach Shin Tae-yong – who masterminded South Korea’s 2-0 win over then world-champions Germany at the 2018 World Cup – has done well with a young squad of an average age of 23 years old.
In the absence of big stars like Stefano Lilipaly, Ilija Spasojevic and Marc Klok, captain Evan Dimas – one of the only three players with more than 10 official caps before this edition – has stepped up to the plate along with previously-unheralded youngsters like Ramai Rumakiek and Pratama Arhan.
There is also pedigree in the form of attacking midfielders Egy Maulana and Witan Sulaeman, playing in the Slovakian and Polish top flights respectively, while towering centre-back Elkan Baggott is on the books of English League One side Ipswich Town. Forward Ezra Walian was a product of the Ajax Amsterdam academy as well.
Goals have been the order of the day for Indonesia, who netted 13 times in four matches – the most by any team – to top Group B ahead of defending champions Vietnam and Singapore captain Hariss Harun believes it is important to match their intensity and hunger.
“They do a lot of running in a game and are very direct in the way they play,” the 31-year-old told FAS.org.sg. “Their young players have been very eager to prove themselves and they are where they are right now because of their qualities as a team. It is a huge challenge, but we have our way of playing and I believe Coach Tatsuma (Yoshida) knows how to set us up tactically against them.”
Nur Adam Abdullah, 18 December 2021
With regular left-back Shakir Hamzah ruled out for the tournament due to a serious knee injury sustained in the 2-0 loss against Thailand last Saturday, Nur Adam Abdullah will hope to get the nod to feature on the big stage.
Describing it as a “dream come true” to make his Suzuki Cup debut as a 65th-minute substitute against Thailand, the 2021 Singapore Premier League (SPL) Young Player of the Year is now aiming to go one step further and make his first ever international start.
“In the past, I was watching and looking up to players like Hariss, Hassan Sunny and Safuwan Baharudin from the stands; now, I am playing alongside them,” the 20-year-old reflected. “I gave my everything in that 25 minutes against Thailand… There is always room for improvement, but I felt I proved that I am worthy of being included in this squad.
“I may still be young, but I have the confidence and belief – I think I can play my position very well. If you look at Indonesia or other countries, players at my age are already starting for their national team. If they are already doing so, why can’t I?”
Hariss Harun and Ikhsan Fandi, 14 December 2021
Having recovered from COVID-19 just a couple of weeks before the tournament, Hariss worked his socks off to get up to speed. He is one of only three outfield players, along with Safuwan and Irfan Fandi, who have completed all four matches and the midfielder is ready to put his body on the line again.
“It is pretty evident that I am still on the road back (to full fitness), but there are no excuses whatsoever as I know my role in this team,” he asserted. “I will continue to give my best and do what I can do for the team.”
For Nur Adam, patience is a virtue and he is ready to play his part regardless of the role.
“As a player, you always want to play especially in such a big tournament,” he said. “But I also understand that I am here to gain some experience from the senior players and prepare myself for the future editions as well… At the end of the day, it depends on Coach’s decision.
“I just have to be on my feet whenever I am called upon and play at my very best. I understand the international game is a whole different level from the SPL, so I have been preparing myself for the higher intensity.”
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With the tickets for the Singapore zones for both legs being sold out within a day of being released, the Lions will be out to deliver in front of an expectant home crowd.
“It is really nice to see the fans coming back and tickets being snapped up so quickly, and I hope we can give them something to be happy about,” Hariss said. “Coming down to this stage, I do not think we have to say much to each other. Everyone knows what is at stake – we just have to go out there and play for the flag.”