Football: S'pore captain Hariss Harun tests positive for Covid-19, ruled out of Dubai training camp

Hariss had taken a polymerase chain reaction test earlier in the week, which was when the result showed up. PHOTO: FAS

SINGAPORE - The Lions' preparations for the upcoming AFF Suzuki Cup have been hit after national skipper Hariss Harun tested positive for Covid-19.

The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) announced the news on Sunday (Nov 7), a day before the squad were due to fly to Dubai for a 10-day training camp.

In a media statement, the FAS said Hariss had tested positive after undergoing a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test earlier in the week, and had since been placed in isolation. His condition will be monitored further.

Even though the 30-year-old had been part of a centralised training camp with the rest of the squad since Oct 25, the FAS stated that all the other players and backroom staff have been undergoing daily antigen rapid tests, which have turned up negative results.

"The contingent has also undertaken the pre-departure PCR test yesterday as part of the requirements before flying to Dubai on Monday, where they have all been cleared for the travel," it said.

The FAS added it would continue to take all necessary measures to ensure the health and safety of the squad are prioritised as they continue their preparations for the Dec 5-Jan 1 Suzuki Cup, which will be staged in Singapore.

Hariss, who has been isolating since his positive test on Wednesday, told The Straits Times that he was disappointed to be grounded.

But he added: "I hope the team are able to prepare well and return in good shape, and hopefully I can rejoin them right away when they are back."

The 30-year-old said that he first felt "something was off" when he was extra tired on Tuesday afternoon, but an antigen rapid test (ART) that evening returned a negative result.

The next morning, however, the fatigue was compounded by a blocked nose and body aches. This time, an ART test returned a positive result, and a PCR test later that day also showed the same.

Hariss, who is fully vaccinated, said he has not felt any shortness of breath, and added that he has felt "much better" after a difficult first two days with the virus.

"It gave me chills on the first night, and it was difficult to fall asleep," he said.

National captain Hariss Harun (right) celebrates after wining the Singapore Premier League on Oct 10, 2021. He has placed in isolation and will be monitored further. PHOTO: LION CITY SAILORS

The training camp in Dubai runs from Monday till Nov 17. In the gulf, the 160th-ranked Lions will play the world's 96th-ranked side Kyrgyzstan on Thursday in an official 'A' international - where each side is limited to six substitutions and appearances count towards caps - before playing the Morocco 'A' side in an unofficial friendly match on Nov 16.

The travelling contingent are fully vaccinated, and therefore are not required to serve a quarantine upon arriving in the United Arab Emirates.

However, as Dubai is not currently among the list of places in Singapore's Vaccinated Travel Lane scheme, it is understood the Lions will have to follow a "controlled itinerary" upon their return to Singapore.

This will be similar to the one they were in after they returned from three World Cup qualifying games in Saudi Arabia in June, when they were placed in a bubble with strict restrictions on movement, which allowed them to train at Geylang Field while serving quarantine in a hotel.

Hariss, who plays his club football for the Lion City Sailors in the Singapore Premier League (SPL) has been on the mend from a quadriceps injury he picked up on the final day of the season on Oct 10, and will be one of the Lions' most important players as they look to add to their four Suzuki Cup wins and first since 2012.

He was due to be cleared to return to full training on the same day he tested positive.

"(The situation) is not ideal… and I would have loved to continue training with the team because I would have been back in full training (in Dubai) and would have played a part in some of our matches," said Hariss, who has played 101 times for the national team.

"I don't know how much this has taken out of me, and it's not going to be easy to get my physical condition back, but hopefully I will be able to regain it in time."

He is the most high-profile Singaporean player to test positive for Covid-19 and is at least the sixth case involving SPL footballers.

In July, two Tampines Rovers players tested positive after returning from Uzbekistan, where they played their Asian Champions League group matches.

In September, players from Geylang International and Balestier Khalsa also tested positive.

Singapore kick off the Suzuki Cup against Myanmar in a Group A clash on Dec 5. The other teams in the group are record five-time champions Thailand, the Philippines and either Brunei or Timor Leste.

Group B, meanwhile, comprises defending champions Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Laos and Cambodia.

The top two teams from each group progress to the semi-finals.


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