Hariss heading up north

Hariss heading up north
LionsXII playing against Kedah at the Jalan Besar Stadium yesterday. Photo: Ooi Boon Keong
Key midfielder wanted by Malaysian states; LionsXII draw M-Cup opener
Published: 4:02 AM, August 21, 2013
Updated: 4:00 AM, August 22, 2013

SINGAPORE — On a night when the LionsXII twice squandered the lead to start their 2013 Malaysia Cup campaign with a 2-2 draw with Kedah, news has emerged that key midfielder Hariss Harun is unlikely to be part of the team’s set-up next season.

Big-spending Johor Darul Takzim (JDT) want Hariss as their third foreign signing, and talks are underway. JDT are set to unveil at a media conference today Argentina’s former World Cup star Pablo Aimar and Spain’s former Under-20 international Braulio Nobrega Rodriguez as their new signings for next season.

Hariss’ father, Harun Habib Mohamed, who acts as his son’s adviser, told TODAY he has met Johor Football Association officials recently to discuss a move for Hariss to JDT next season.

“Johor are not the only team; we are talking to another team but nothing has been confirmed,” said Harun. “We are listening to the offers and, when the time is right, we will make a decision.

“I feel it’s time for Hariss to move out of Singapore. He is only 23 and still has time to develop his career away from home. Maybe playing in Malaysia will teach him what life as a professional footballer is all about. He will learn to be independent and, after a season or two, he can then think what his next step should be.

“Hariss has served Singapore football well and has carried the team forward. Now, he should look elsewhere.”

The timing is right for Hariss to seek a career move, having just completed his National Service and with plans to get married next year.

Earlier this year, TODAY reported that renowned international football agent Jorge Mendes was planning to link Hariss with a top-flight Portuguese club after the Malaysia Cup. But it was recently reported that the move had broken down, with Hariss cryptically saying he could not accept the deal. It is believed pay was an issue, as footballers in Portugal’s top division earn between €2,000 (S$3,420) and €3,000 a month, much less than what some key LionsXII players are getting.

Hariss declined comment last night, but the Lions will rue missing out on a win at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

Shahril Ishak headed the LionsXII into the lead in the 12th minute but Kedah’s reply came swiftly when LionsXII keeper Izwan Mahbud’s effort to save Croatian Alen Guc’s strike rebounded off Guc’s body into the net. The LionsXII led again in the 65th minute when substitute Shahfiq Ghani curled in a freekick but Kedah were awarded a 90th-min penalty which Guc converted.