Hariss backs LionsXII to better last season’s finish

Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) midfielder Hariss Harun believes his former side can finish higher than 2014’s eighth-placed finish despite their lack of wins this term.

The LionsXII have only recorded one win in seven Malaysian Super League (MSL) games so far – drawing four and losing two - since their opening day victory against PDRM FA.

Fandi Ahmad’s boys are already seven points off leaders Selangor FA, but Hariss believes they will be back amongst the big boys as the season goes on.

“They’ll do better than they did last season,” the 24-year-old told FourFourTwo after his JDT side was held to a goalless draw by his former team-mates at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Saturday.

“They’ve improved a lot this year and you never know. As you can see, the league’s now very tight and the top five to six teams are separated by just a few points.”

Integral to the result last night was LionsXII keeper Izwan Mahbud, who made a series of excellent saves to deny the JDT duo of Patito Rodriguez and Alhaji Kamara.

However, Hariss believes it was the whole team that deserved the plaudits for collecting a point against his heavily-fancied JDT side.

“I cannot single out anyone because it was a collective effort,” he said.

“Izwan saved them on many occasions and covered the game well, but everyone did their part. They were very well prepared for this game and were very compact throughout.

“They’re aware of the threat of our players and they stuck close to them.”

Hariss endured a challenging 90 minutes coming up against familiar faces in Raihan Rahman, Izzdin Shafiq and Firdaus Kasman, but later insisted that he relished the battle. 

“It was a good challenge,” he shared. “They know me and I know them, but there’re no friends during the 90 minutes.

“Before and after the game, we speak as friends but on the field, you have to do the job for your team. It was competitive and I think they did very well.”

With JDT’s winless streak extended to four games, the Singapore vice-captain believes it is back to the drawing board for his side as they look to defend their MSL crown this term.

“We’re definitely not happy with this result,” he responded bluntly.

“We should have finished the game off with the numerous chances which we had to collect the three points, but we didn’t do that.

“Still, that’s football and one point is better than nothing.

“We know we’re capable of doing better and now we have to spur ourselves to improve ourselves for the upcoming games.”

JDT host Kelantan this coming weekend, while the LionsXII go away to Shah Alam Stadium to take on old rivals Selangor FA. 

Main image: Skip Fulton