AFF Suzuki Cup 2018

Football: Lions skipper Hariss Harun leads by example with Man-of-the-Match display

Singapore captain Hariss Harun shields the ball from Indonesia's Brazilian-born striker Beto Goncalves (No. 9) in their Suzuki Cup Group B opener at the National Stadium last night. The midfielder made his presence felt on the pitch in a match-winnin
Singapore captain Hariss Harun shields the ball from Indonesia's Brazilian-born striker Beto Goncalves (No. 9) in their Suzuki Cup Group B opener at the National Stadium last night. The midfielder made his presence felt on the pitch in a match-winning performance.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Hariss puts in man-of-the-match display, scores winner, guides younger teammates

A day before he made his Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup debut in the opening 1-0 win over Indonesia at the National Stadium, Singapore right-back Zulqarnaen Suzliman did not think any one had noticed his nerves.

The 20-year-old probably underestimated the leadership and awareness of his captain, Hariss Harun.

Zulqarnaen said: "Hariss noticed I was feeling the pressure and took time to talk to me, told me to make a few good passes early in the game to strengthen my confidence, and said that we have to win this for our country and families.

"That helped me to settle down, focus and be determined to play well."

Hariss' influence extended on to the pitch in a man-of-the-match display. Winger Gabriel Quak described the 27-year-old as the team's "Roy Keane, Patrick Vieira, and Gennaro Gattuso" as Hariss was snapping at the heels of opponents, denying them time and space to create openings, and standing up for his teammates during confrontations.

More crucially, the Johor Darul Takzim midfielder was at the right place at the right time to lash home the winning goal in the 37th minute after great work by winger Quak on the right flank.

Whereas he had been mostly deployed as a defensive midfielder or even as a centre-back by previous national coaches Bernd Stange and V. Sundram Moorthy, Hariss now seems to have found an attacking edge to his game.

LEADING FROM MIDFIELD

Hariss was our engine, pressing and fighting for every ball. He has a lot of determination, he really wants to win, and is a great example to younger players.

FANDI AHMAD, interim national coach, on his captain's display against Indonesia at the heart of Singapore's midfield.

With three goals in his last three internationals, and four in five games, he now has nine goals from 87 caps and is Singapore's leading scorer this year.

Interim national coach Fandi Ahmad said: "Previously, Hariss used to sit deeper in midfield. But I told him and (fellow central midfielder) Izzdin Shafiq not to be static and take turns to attack and cover for each other.

"Hariss was our engine, pressing and fighting for every ball. He has a lot of determination, he really wants to win, and is a great example to younger players."

Yet, typical of his down-to-earth nature, "Captain Marvel" Hariss refused to claim credit for the match-winning performance.

 

He said: "I just try to help wherever I can.

"We have had more attacking drills to finish off our moves and I'm happy to contribute.

"It really doesn't matter who scores as long as we get the win.

"On the pitch, the coach can do only so much to set us up the best he can, but the players have got to take charge no matter how young or senior.

"Having said that, we know that there are a few who are playing in their first AFF Suzuki Cup so we have to try to help them just like how Aide Iskandar, Noh Alam Shah and Mustafic Fahrudin helped us when we were young players.

"We have a collective responsibility to do our best for the national team."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 10, 2018, with the headline 'Captain Marvel leads by example'. Print Edition | Subscribe