|By Teng Kiat
A warm round of applause rippled around the Jalan Besar Stadium when Hariss Harun jogged along the touchline early in the first half, with the LionsXII leading 1-0 against Pahang FA on Saturday evening.
The Singapore midfielder then received even greater cheers when he came on minutes later to replace the injured Isa Halim, and such a reception from the crowd indicates just how highly regarded the 22-year-old is.
Hariss was making a return to competitive action after a three-month layoff due to a broken fibula sustained during the AFF Suzuki Cup in November, and he went on to help the team to a comprehensive 3-0 victory that saw them move to second place in the Malaysian Super League table.
While he did not expect to come on so early in the game, Hariss was glad to finally be in the thick of things again.
“I didn’t expect [to come on] but of course when I am called upon, I [always] try to do my best, to do the job. It’s good to be back and be part of the team,” he told Goal.com Singapore after the game.
“To win, and to win convincingly in my first game back is a great feeling. Hopefully I can keep my momentum and fitness from now on!”
LionsXII coach V. Sundramoorthy believes that having the Singapore vice-captain available for selection again will be a major boost to the team as he knows very clearly what Hariss can offer on the pitch.
“Hariss is an experienced player [and] a Singapore international who can add strength to our defensive part of the game. He can shield the two centrebacks and help us in aerial balls… He can really make a difference in midfield [for us],” Sundram asserted.
Hariss could be in line to make his first start of the season against Johor Darul Takzim on Tuesday evening, and he is all ready to go again.
“There is a possibility [that I will start] but I have to be always prepared whether Coach [Sundram] starts me or not, so if I start I will give my best,” he promised.
The LionsXII will face Johor on Tuesday at the Tan Sri Dato' Haji Hassan Yunos Stadium in Johor Bahru, with kick-off scheduled at 8.45p.m.