Singapore skipper Hariss Harun believes his teammates are optimistic about their chances of making it to the group stages of AFC Asian Cup 2019. The Lions face Chinese Taipei in a Group E qualifying match on Saturday at the Jalan Besar Stadium and the Home United midfielder says a win against the lower-ranked side will be crucial to the team's prospects. [How to watch match online, start time]
V Sundramoorthy's men have warmed-up to tonight's important match with a 1-1 draw against Myanmar at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Tuesday. Second-half substitute Nazrul Nazari struck an injury time equaliser, which according to the 51-year-old tactician was a morale-boosting end to a match, in which the Lions created a lot of chances.
"We [Singapore] have never qualified for the Asian Cup before, and we want to get there because that will be good for Singapore football. I am optimistic we can do it, but we need to work together," Hariss said, as quoted by The New Paper.
"No disrespect to Taiwan but, if we want to make it through, these are the games we must win."
Singapore have not made the group stages of the tournament ever since they qualified as hosts in 1984. However, in 2011 they were well-placed to progress before their final qualification match against Jordan. A point was enough to finish second in the group behind Iran after they had clinched first-round wins agaisnt Jordan and Thailand.
However, the Lions, which had Hariss in the team, lost to Jordan 2-1 to finish last in the group, blowing away their chances of making the group stages. The 26-year-old believes that it is important to secure maximum points from the initial stages of the campaign to make sure the team does not repeat the mistakes of 2011.
"In a tough group that also included Iran, we had beaten Jordan and Thailand earlier to put ourselves in a good position, so it was really tough to swallow, and I don't want that to happen again," he added.
Hariss also says the team is confident on ending their goal-scoring woes, which has seen them score only six goals in their last 13 international matches. The recent form of players in the S.League can make a difference, the midfielder opines.
"People say that's the strikers' job, but it's important that everyone chips in, even myself, to take the pressure off the strikers. It [lack of goals] is definitely something we need to improve on, but the good news is we have players in good form such as Faris Ramli, Khairul Nizam and Safuwan Baharudin," Hariss said.