Hariss pleased at Kallang return

Singapore midfielder Hariss Harun has expressed his delight at returning to the National Stadium where he was once the youngest-ever international to play for the Lions.

It was at the old National Stadium where Hariss made his international debut for Singapore back in 2009, when he was aged just 16 years and 217 days.

Coming on as a 70th-minute substitute, Hariss helped Raddy Avramovic’s men to a shock 2-1 victory over North Korea. He still holds the tag of being the ‘youngest ever player to play for Singapore’ till today.

Speaking to FourFourTwo from the sidelines of the newly-laid pitch, the 23-year-old admitted it would be an emotional occasion for him on Saturday night to play in Kallang again.

“It’s always special for me to play here,” he said.

“To make my debut in the old stadium was really a special moment for me. I hope that the new stadium can bring me many more sweet memories in my career.”

Playing a handful of games here during 2007 to 2009 before it was refurbished, Thursday evening marked the first time Hariss set foot in the brand new facility abd he admitted that this was a refreshing change.

“The facilities are pretty impressive, although the field is not really ready yet,” he remarked.

“This is a proper football stadium. From what I see, this is how close the stands are to the pitch. This is a good change because the fans were a bit far with the (running) track in the past.

“If there’s a full-house crowd, I think when we walk out onto the field, we can really feel the force of the fans and that they are behind us.”

Hariss has come a long way since that international debut; making 30 over appearances in a Lions shirt, picking up the 2012 AFF Suzuki Cup, winning back-to-back Malaysian Super League titles with different teams (LionsXII and Johor Darul Ta’zim) as well as playing alongside the likes of experienced Argentinian internationals Pablo Aimar and Luciano Figueroa this season.

He will come up against the likes of Andrea Pirlo, Paul Pogba and Claudio Marchisio in the middle of the park, but the former Courts Young Lions captain insisted that he will not be overawed by the occasion.

“For me, I just want to enjoy the occasion,” he said.

“It’s going to be a great gauge of our standards to play against such good players. I’ve seen Pirlo and Pogba play at the World Cup and also some of the (UEFA) Champions League games, so we don’t need a reminder of how good they are.

“For us, it’s an opportunity to go in and learn from these players since they do not come here every time and I wish the fans will turn up in full force to support us.”

Bar a major tactical switch by coach Bernd Stange, Hariss is likely to pair up with Shahdan Sulaiman yet again in a partnership which he feels very comfortable in.

“I think it’s coming up well,” said the combative midfielder who started alongside the Tampines Rovers man in all three games of their Austrian tour.

“He’s a more attacking-minded player than I am. When I play with him, I probably have to curb my forward runs a bit. And of course there is that side of the game where he just sits behind and play the balls through.

“If given more time, I’m sure we can develop the partnership.”