Football: Singapore's Hariss misses morning training with new Spanish club

Football: Singapore's Hariss misses morning training with new Spanish club
Hariss Harun cradling his three-month-old daughter Nadine at Changi Airport on Wednesday.
PHOTO: The New Paper

He endured an almost 18-hour journey to get to Spain, and Hariss Harun will have to wait at least another 14 before he can kick a ball for his new club.

The 26-year-old national football ace is on loan with Spanish third-tier team CE L'Hospitalet, from Malaysian club Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT).

JDT had originally announced on Dec 14 that he would be loaned to a Portuguese or Japanese club for a year, but that failed to materialise.

On Feb 2, the Malaysian Super League champions revealed that Hariss would be heading to CE L'Hospitalet instead, although that move was also delayed to two days ago, due to problems with his work permit application.

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Hariss left Singapore late on Wednesday night and, by the time he landed at the Barcelona El Prat Airport, it was already past noon in Spain.

One of L'Hospitalet's assistant coaches was at the airport to ferry him to his hotel, which is about only seven kilometres from Barcelona's famed Nou Camp homeground.

Hariss told The New Paper over the phone last night: "My first day here has been good.

"The weather is a bit chilly, about 15 deg C. The coach just asked me what it is like in Singapore and told me a little bit about the team, when the next game is, training... football stuff.

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"The team usually train just once a day, at around 10.30am. So I could not join them.

"If there was a session in the afternoon, I would have been eager to get involved, but there wasn't, so maybe it's good I had this time to settle, rest and recuperate.

"My hotel is not too far away from the airport. Along the way, on the highway, I also saw where the club train and play, so I can't wait to start training."

L'Hospitalet are mired in a relegation battle in the Segunda B, a league that includes the reserve teams of Barcelona, Villarreal and Espanyol.

The Catalonia-based team lie 18th out of 20 sides after 26 games and have won just one of their last five matches. They host eighth-placed Atletico Saguntino on Sunday at their 6,700-seat Estadi La Feixa Llarga.

Hariss admitted that the match against Saguntino will likely come too soon for him, but he is nonetheless thrilled by his return to Catalonia.

In August 2007, he trained for a week at Barcelona's La Masia academy as part of a Nike contest, and returned to Singapore with the Most Valuable Player award.

"To be honest, I couldn't recognise the airport from when I came 10 years ago," said Hariss, who has 71 caps for Singapore.

"Maybe I was just a kid then and couldn't remember, or maybe 10 years is really a long time."

This article was first published on Feb 24 , 2017.
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