Lions count on trio for set-piece delivery
It may have sailed through the air or bounced towards him, rolled, or even bobbled along the surface of the pitch at the National Stadium last night, but Hariss Harun could seem to do no wrong.
When the ball got to him off a corner, the 24-year-old found a way to lash it into goal, or at least force the goalkeeper into a save.
The Lions were in their final training session ahead of tonight's World Cup/Asian Cup Group E qualifier against Cambodia, with finishing drills and set-pieces dominating proceedings.
Set-pieces are a potent weapon in the Lions' arsenal, but they are likely to start the match without three of their regular dead-ball specialists in Shaiful Esah, Zulfahmi Arifin and Shahdan Sulaiman, who was not even called up to the squad this time out.
But Hariss remained confident that stand-ins Faris Ramli, Sahil Suhaimi and Shakir Hamzah will be able to deliver the goods.
"We have to make use of our strength at set-pieces, and players like Safuwan (Baharudin), Baihakki (Khaizan), Madhu (Mohana) and Khairul Amri, who are good in the air," said the midfield star.
"Shaiful may be out, but I'm confident that whoever it is that takes our set-pieces will be able to put the right kind of delivery into the danger area," Hariss added, pointing to Faris' critical delivery in the Lions' 1-0 win over Afghanistan last Thursday.
And the fleet-footed winger is ready to do more of the same tonight.
Faris said: "To be able to see (video) replays of that assist of mine is amazing, but I have to put that aside now, take each game as a brand new one.
"I'm confident that I can do the same again. Hopefully, we get a bit of luck (this time out too)."
While Faris is tasked with the in-swinging corners off the left side, Sahil is tasked with the out-swinging option off the opposite flank, when he plays.
"We were practising earlier and I think I did well, I am confident of delivering," said Sahil.
"But (even if I don't do well), we do have Shakir Hamzah as a second option."
Defender Shakir is the only left-footer poised to start against Cambodia.
Even against a side that the Lions beat 4-0 in June, no one in the squad is taking anything for granted.
"What we do in training is good for confidence, but we must deliver when the game kicks off," said Hariss.
"We may have beaten them before, but we must not be complacent."
- SHAMIR OSMAN
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