It was the ‘Hariss Harun (above, in red) and Shaiful Esah’ show as the Singapore National Football Team stormed to a 4-2 win over Myanmar on Wednesday evening. (Photo by VoxSports)
Hariss was lauded by Singapore head coach Bernd Stange after he put on a majestic display in midfield and scored two well-taken goals in the first half, the first which saw him executing a delicate chest-down before he volleyed an unstoppable rocket into the net.
Shaiful too earned Stange’s praise for his set-pieces deliveries, as he opened the scoring with a well-taken free kick in the 16th minute. Shaiful then secured the win for Singapore by whipping in a free kick which Myanmar captain Khin Maung Lwin unwittingly glanced in past his own goalkeeper in the 76th minute.
Shaiful Esah (right) earned Stange’s praise for his set-pieces deliveries. (Photo by VoxSports)
The last goal was especially poignant, given that Myanmar had struck twice in the second half to trim Singapore’s three-goal lead at half-time to a mere one-goal just after the hour mark. Shaiful gave Singapore much more breathing room during a period where Myanmar threatened to overrun Singapore and make a legendary comeback.
The win was Singapore’s first of the 2014 ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup campaign, and allowed them to go up to second in Group B. With one last game against Malaysia, the Lions’ fate are now in their own hands.
The win was Singapore’s first of the 2014 AFF Suzuki Cup campaign, and allowed them to go up to second in Group B. (Photo by VoxSports)
For Hariss, he was glad he finally scored again after 47 caps. The brace he earned took his overall tally for the national team to three goals.
However, that is the past as far as he is concerned, as he now looks ahead to the game against Malaysia, where a loss will see the reigning Suzuki Cup champions crash out of the tournament.
"I’m very happy and pleased, and I hope to score more and we have a big game coming this Saturday and I'm looking forward to that game,” Hariss shared.
“We are defending champions and we have to play like defending champions. We have to know the value of this Saturday's game, we don't need an introduction. It's a big, big, game and we need qualification and we have to step up."
“We have destiny in our hands and the fate in our hands, we have to make it count."
The match also saw a young Al-Qassimy Rahmah making his Suzuki Cup bow. With right-back Ismadi Mukhtar suffering an injury in the 38th minute, the youngster was called upon by head coach Bernd Stange to replace his experienced counterpart.
With only five caps to his name, Al-Qassimy was surprised he got asked to come on. After all, he admitted he never expected to feature in the game, not that early in any case.
However, the young right-back showed maturity beyond his age to fly into challenges and went about his task with composure.
“When I came on, I had a job to do: To keep the strikers and wingers at bay,” the 22-year-old said.
"It's just another day, another day at work, I did not feel any pressure [even though it was my debut for the tournament]. I was actually excited because of the fans cheering us on."
With Baihakki Khaizan out for Saturday’s game due to a one-game suspension, and Stange sweating on Ismadi’s fitness, Al-Qassimy has declared he is ready to start for Singapore should the need arises.
"I'm always ready to go and start the game, we are hoping to get the win against Malaysia, it's between me and Ismandi, at the end of the day we both will do our job."