KUALA LUMPUR, Apr 13 – Father Fandi Ahmad needs no introduction for his football exploits – Singapore’s best known football ambassador who was not only a household name in this region but also carved out a name for himself in Europe.
The legendary Fandi – son of former Singapore national goalkeeper Ahmad Wartam – donned national colors 101 times and plundered 55 goals from 1979 to 1997 and left a legacy in the republic’s football world.
In Europe, Fandi was a hit with Dutch club FC Groningen and Greek side OFI Crete. He also played for Niac Mitra in the Indonesian League and in Malaysia turned out for Kuala Lumpur, Pahang. In Singapore he played for Geylang and Singapore Armed Forces.
On March 26 Fandi’s name again vibrated at the National Stadium and the famous “Kallang Roar” roared again – this time it was Fandi’s three sons – Irfan, Ikhsan and Ilhan – who wrote a new chapter in Singapore football history. It was the first time the three brothers donned national colors for Singapore in an international match.
Twenty-two-year old Ikhsan rekindled the “Fandimania” with a double strike in Singapore’s come-from-behind 2-1 win over Malaysia in a Tri-Nation match as the siblings warmed the hearts of the home fans. The famous Kallang Roar was heard loud and clear. His double against Malaysia took his international tally to 13 goals (26 caps).
For the record, Ikhsan – described as a “genuine No 9” – plays for BG Pathum in the Thai League.
Former Singapore national coach Jita Singh – who gave Fandi the big break as a striker following the retirement of Arshad Khamis and Dollah Kassim in 1979 – is more than pleased with the way the Fandi siblings have broken into the limelight.
Jita, however, has advised the Fandi siblings not to ride on their father’s legacy. Instead, they should “ride on their own strength” and create their own legacy.
“Each of them have their own strengths and weakness. You need ‘group dynamics’ to thrive in football and the Fandi siblings should work on their strengths to build their reputation.
“They should get out of the shell and create their own legacy based on their strengths and build their reputation – thanks to their father (Fandi Ahmad) who has groomed them into what they are today.
“They are reaping the dividends but there is much more to learn in today’s football. Football today is not like before. Today, credit also goes to the one who assists. No one person brings glory, ” said Jita.
“True Ikhsan scored two against Malaysia but you are not Fandi…Fandi is your father. Now you have to work on your strengths and iron out your weakness to create a new legacy of your own and build your reputation.”
Ikhsan’s double set the football world in this region abuzz, especially across the causeway, as Malaysia embarks on a new football journey under South Korean coach Kim Pan-gon. The Korean started his stint in Malaysia with a 2-0 win over the Philippines in his first match in charge at the same venue.
Fandi’s exploits earned him stints with clubs in Indonesia an Europe and earned 101 caps for his country. There is more to come for the “Kallang Roar” and there is more to come from the Fandi siblings.
Ikhsan, Irfan and Ilhan are looking at a bigger picture to take their football careers to new heights and Europe is their top priority.