Hariss Harun wants Singapore to show 'fire and desire' vs. Bahrain
Vice-captain Hariss Harun has urged Singapore not to hold back as they host Bahrain in the must-win 2019 Asian Cup qualifier at the National Stadium on Tuesday night.
Bottom of Group E with two points from four games, the Lions face a mammoth task to qualify for the tournament in the United Arab Emirates. They need to win their final two games and hope for other results to go their way.
Coming off a 1-0 friendly loss to Lebanon last Thursday, which extended their winless run to 12 matches since Nov. 2016, Hariss admitted that their poor run of form has led to some bruised egos in the dressing room.
"Naturally after every defeat, the boys are demoralised and the morale is low," he said. "But we try to pick ourselves up and discuss where we can improve.
"Obviously, we have different characters within the team, but some of the boys have been talking about where we could have done better. That's a good thing; with different opinions, we're trying to fit the right way to fit everybody.
"It hasn't been a good year, but we have been making good strides in the right direction in the last few months and we need to continue that. We need to go out on the pitch with fire and desire [against Bahrain] because we still have a chance to qualify.
"Playing at home, we need to find that extra thing in us to push and repay our fans."
Singapore coach V. Sundramoorthy attributed the lack of wins to arranging friendlies against higher-ranked opponents like Qatar, Lebanon, Afghanistan and Hong Kong.
He is adamant that his side have improved by playing such fixtures.
"I can easily arrange [games against] lower-ranked opponents like Laos and Cambodia, but that's not our objective," argued the 52-year-old, who has yet to win a competitive game since taking over the Lions hot seat last May. "We want to compete against better opposition and see where we stand.
"The boys have done well in the last few games; they're more fluid in their play and their positioning, they understand what we want from them. That's a positive sign.
"We must keep believing and moving forward in this way. It's important that we are very energetic [against Bahrain]. We must close down every ball and even run for 95 minutes. From what the boys have been doing in games and training sessions, it's a matter of time before we put up a good result."
Kenneth Tan is a Singapore-based football writer on S.League and AFC Cup for ESPN FC and FourFourTwo. Twitter: @KennerveT