JDT won't release Hariss for Asiad
A hamstring tear has already seen Madhu Mohana ruled out, and a similar injury may also scupper the Asian Games hopes of his LionsXII teammate Shakir Hamzah.
In a move that may further hurt Singapore's chances at the Incheon Games, Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) have informed the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) that they will not release over-aged midfielder Hariss Harun for the football competition from Sept 14-Oct 2.
"This is an age-group tournament, and Hariss is a senior player who is important to JDT. Moreover, we have qualified for the quarter-finals of the Malaysia Cup. This is what we have told the FAS," said JDT coach Bojan Hodak, whose team will face Terengganu in the first leg of the Malaysia Cup quarter-finals on Oct 3.
Football is an Under-23 competition at the Asiad (for players born on or after Jan 1, 1991), but teams are allowed to field three over-aged players.
National coach Bernd Stange, who will lead the Singapore squad, has earmarked Hariss, who turns 24 on Nov 19, as one of the over-aged players.
Malaysia's U-23 coach Ong Kim Swee has called up three JDT players.While 27-year-old defender Aidil Zafuan (one of the three over-aged players) is ruled out with an injury, goalkeeper Izham Tarmizi and defender Fadhli Shas will travel to Incheon.
"The difference is that the two of them are U-23 players, and this is an age-group tournament, while Hariss is a senior player. If this was a senior-level tournament, I would consider letting him go," said Hodak.
While the FAS told TNP that it has yet to receive such a statement, JDT said that their refusal to release Hariss for the Asian Games was included in the same reply that allowed the midfielder to join the national team for the friendlies against Papua New Guinea tomorrow and Hong Kong on Sept 9.
Hodak insisted that JDT remain on friendly terms with the FAS.
While clubs are only required by Fifa to release their players for international duty on specified "Fifa dates" for sanctioned international matches, JDT have complied with FAS' requests for the release of Hariss on two earlier occasions - outside of what is required.
"We are friendly with the FAS, and have released Hariss on non-Fifa dates - for the Juventus friendly (Aug 16) and for Singapore's training tour to Austria (July 7-23)," added former Kelantan coach Hodak.
"We are paying his salary, he is now an important player for the club, a foreign player, and has been excellent for us in the last few months. We will need him in training and friendly games in preparation for the quarter-finals.
"We don't want to risk him. The only one who can change this decision in our president (Tunku Ismail Idris)."
At the Asian Games, Singapore are drawn with Tajikistan, Oman and Palestine in Group C.
They will kick off their campaign against Tajikistan on Sept 14.