Hariss Harun says Home United can beat Albirex in Singapore Cup
Home United utility Hariss Harun insists his side have proved they can more than match Albirex Niigata (S) as they prepare for this week's two-legged Singapore Cup semifinal.
The Protectors snapped the S.League leaders' 12-game winning streak when they met in the S.League last Tuesday, pushing them all the way in a 1-1 draw.
The result still damaged Home United's fading hopes of catching Albirex in the race for this year's title, as they remain 13 points adrift. Though the Protectors have three games in hand, the champions would have to slip up at least twice in their four remaining fixtures to hand their opponents a chance.
But Hariss' side still have the opportunity to overcome Albirex and reach the cup final, putting them in with chance of lifting the trophy for the first time since 2013.
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Following last week's clash at the Bishan Stadium, Hariss drew encouragement from the fact that Home United were unbeaten against the champions this year, having defeated them 2-0 in June and drawn 2-2 in April.
"I think we are the only team that have matched Albirex stride for stride this season, and they have yet to beat us," Hariss, who has played both centre-back and midfield for Home United, told ESPN FC.
"The season is not over. We have to win all the games we have to play and also we have the cup games coming up, so we have to refocus and regroup for those games.
"In the second half, we really played a good game. We made plenty of chances -- more than enough chances to earn a second goal."
Midfielder Faris Ramli hit the post as Home United pushed for a winner in the same game, and he saw weaknesses that could be exploited in the cup.
"Credit to Albirex, they did defend well, and they are very disciplined, but the second half was all over the place for them," Faris told ESPN FC. "We did manage to get one goal, and it just wasn't our luck to get the second."
The first leg takes place at Jurong East Stadium on Wednesday evening before the return at Bishan Stadium on Saturday. The winners over two legs will face either Hougang United or Philippines club Global-Cebu FC in the final.
Bangkok-based Paul Murphy has lived in Asia for a decade, writing for ESPN FC since 2014. He is a former Daily Express sub-editor. @PaulMurphyBKK