Hariss wants to turn tables on Syria
After deserved Japan defeat, Hariss is out to avenge undeserved loss to Syria
Against Japan on Thursday, the Lions were the hunted as the Samurai Blue successfully set the record straight with a 3-0 win over a Singapore side who had the temerity to steal a goalless draw at Saitama in June.
The roles will be reversed on Tuesday as Bernd Stange's men eye revenge against Syria, who were lucky to beat Singapore 1-0 in September, after the Lions created the better chances but failed to convert them in the World Cup/Asian Cup qualifier in Oman.
"That was a bitter pill to swallow because we more than matched them and we really should have beaten them," said Hariss Harun, who wore the captain's armband against Japan and was one of the few in a red shirt to emerge from the defeat with credit.
"Against Syria, we hit the post and were unlucky not to score after creating so many chances. And then we lost due to a lapse in concentration, and that was hard to take."
Even as he admits to feeling "heavy" after chasing Japanese shadows, the 24-year-old refuses to cite fatigue as an excuse.
He said: "We just have to rest and recover properly. It never feels easy to be playing two high-intensity international matches in six days at the end of a long season.
"Against Japan, it was really tough and we had to run a lot, and I'm not even talking about with the ball.
"But no excuses, we had been in this position before.
"We started this campaign with two away games in six days and still managed to beat Cambodia 4-0 and hold Japan to a draw. Even in our last match against Syria, we also played Qatar a week before.
"We know what is at stake and we have to put what's past behind us and try to achieve something against Syria."
While Singapore are more or less assured of finishing third in Group E and securing a place in the third round of the Asian Cup qualifiers - Afghanistan have to beat Japan and Singapore to overhaul the Lions - they can mathematically confirm their progress with a win on Tuesday.
Stange said: "I'm convinced we will make it to the next round of the Asian Cup qualifiers.
"We have to focus to make sure of that as soon as possible.
"I don't expect Afghanistan to get anything in Japan, which means we should stay in third position in Group E. But to be absolutely sure as soon as possible, we have to beat Syria.
"If we do that, we could even finish second if we beat Afghanistan in our last game next March and Syria also lose to Japan.
"Considering the other groups, it will be tough to be one of the top four runners-up, but it is still a possibility."
While it remains a long shot, Singapore are still in with a shout for direct qualification to the 2019 Asian Cup if they can finish as one of the four best runners-up from the eight groups.
And that should be motivation enough, declared Hariss.
He added: "We are in a good position to make it to the next round, and if we can finish second, why not?
"We have learnt many lessons playing against top teams like Japan and Syria. If we can improve by 10 to 20 per cent, in areas such as concentration and finishing, we can get there."
"That was a bitter pill to swallow because we more than matched them and we really should have beaten them."
— Lions star Hariss Harun on the 1-0 loss to Syria