Hariss: Singapore undaunted by Wong's Brunei

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There will be no room for sentiment as Hariss Harun and co. prepare to face former Singapore national assistant coach Mike Wong, who now leads Brunei.

There will be a familiar face on the visitors’ bench when Singapore take on Brunei Darussalam in the international friendly at Jurong East Stadium on Saturday.

Present Brunei head coach Mike Wong used to be a youth coach to several of the present Singapore internationals during his previous stint with the Football Association of Singapore.

The warm-up match serves as the final phase of preparation for the Lions before they kick off their joint World Cup-Asian Cup qualifying Group E campaign away to Cambodia and then Japan later this month.

Midfielder Hariss Harun previously worked with the 49-year-old when the latter was assistant to former Singapore coach Radjoko Avramovic, who last led the Lions to their fourth ASEAN Football Federation Suzuki Cup in 2012.

The Johor Darul Ta’zim player admitted Wong’s inside knowledge of the Lions could give the depleted visitors a slight boost, though he was quick to maintain Singapore maintain the upper hand.

“Mike had guided several of us through our youth days, so he knows us inside out,” said the 24-year-old in the pre-match press conference.

“But what matters for us tomorrow is what we do on the pitch. We are in confident mood after tackling a tough game in Bangladesh.”

Singapore come into this match in buoyant mood after they recorded their first international win of the year in a 2-1 away win in Dhaka last Sunday.

The Lions will be confident of recording a second straight win after Brunei were deprived of the services of several DPMM FC players not released by the S.League club, along with a few young internationals presently competing with their South-East Asian (SEA) Games squad.

Prior to their arrival in Singapore, Wong’s team almost forced a draw with DPMM in Wednesday’s friendly at Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium, before succumbing to three late goals to record a 4-1 loss.

Their last international game had been back in March 2015 when they lost 2-0 at home to Chinese Taipei to be eliminated 1-2 on aggregate in the first round of World Cup qualifying action.

Brunei assistant coach Dayam Ali nevertheless has confidence his squad comprising players from the Brunei leagues will justify their selection with a credible showing against the Lions.

“We need international friendlies to continue our exposure to the game at this level,” said Dayam, who previously led the Under-23s in the 2011 SEA Games.

“A few are new at this level so they are in this set-up to have a first taste of international football.”

The Singapore squad list remains unchanged from the side that travelled to Bangladesh last week, meaning there is no place for Iqbal Hussain Hamid.

The Courts Young Lions forward had trained with the national team earlier this week after being dropped from the final 20-man Singapore Under-23 squad for the SEA Games.

Image credit: Weixiang Lim/FourFourTwo