Monday 9 December 2013

Fandi is new LionsXII coach

Former international's appointment comes as no surprise as he is favourite for the post
By Fabius Chen, The Sunday Times, 8 Dec 2013

The worst-kept secret in Singapore football is finally out - Fandi Ahmad, as expected, is the new LionsXII coach.

His appointment was confirmed yesterday evening by the Football Association of Singapore - two months to the day that V. Sundramoorthy relinquished the role after two years in charge.

"I'm finally home," Fandi, who has spent that past seven years coaching in Indonesia and Malaysia, told The Sunday Times.

"It's nice to be back serving my country."

The former national captain has signed a three-year contract, with an option of a further two years.

While no figures have been revealed, he is unlikely to earn anywhere near the $30,000 a month that Johor Darul Takzim paid him.

After all, Sundram is believed to have been on $8,000 a month during his time in charge of the LionsXII. It is understood that he was offered $15,000 to stay on but elected to take over at Negeri Sembilan.

A day after his resignation, The Straits Times reported that the FAS had lined Fandi up as a replacement, with "an 80 per cent chance of him leading the team".

The speculation came to a head one week ago when, following a drawn-out process which saw over 70 applicants vying for the post, he told The New Paper that he had been offered the job.

Speaking about the appointment, FAS general secretary Winston Lee noted that "apart from his illustrious playing career, Fandi is one of the most respected coaches in Singapore today".

"He brings with him a wealth of experience, both at the domestic and regional levels," Lee added.

Indeed, 51-year-old Fandi has enjoyed coaching success since hanging up his boots in 2001 - most notably on the local stage.

Having led Singapore Armed Forces FC (now known as Warriors FC) to two S-League crowns, he went on to guide national Under-23 side Young Lions to two third-placed finishes - their best showings to date.

He left for Indonesian side Pelita Jaya at the end of the 2006 season.

Since then, fans have been clamouring for the return of their hero - calls which have gone unanswered.

Until now.

It was no surprise, then, that news of his appointment was lauded by fans, who celebrated the return of the man who captained the Lions to a Malaysian league and cup Double in 1994.

"Glad to have Fandi back in Singapore football," Lee EK wrote on ST's Facebook page.

"Well-respected true icon of Singapore football has returned to where he belongs," Ridzuan van Persie added.

It was not just supporters heralding his arrival, either.

According to LionsXII midfielder Isa Halim, Fandi was "the obvious choice" to take over as coach.

"As an ex-player, he's been there and done that. Us players will look up to him in the same way we looked up to Sundram."

Tipped to inherit the captain's armband following the departures of Shahril Ishak and Hariss Harun, 27-year-old Isa added that having Fandi on the bench will ensure an increased support for the Malaysian Super League champions.

"The fans will definitely come to see him," the Singapore international said. "In that regard, who can compete with Singapore's favourite footballing son?"

Helping underprivileged children through football
Channel NewsAsia, 8 Dec 2013

Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K Shanmugam has met up with newly appointed LionsXII head coach Fandi Ahmad to discuss how they can work together to help underprivileged children in Yishun through soccer.

Posting on his Facebook page on Sunday afternoon, he said, "I met up with Fandi in Yishun recently, at his Fandi Ahmad Academy training session where he and other coaches are doing a great job nurturing young kids into future soccer stars."

Mr Shanmugam, who is also an MP for Nee Soon GRC, a constituency which covers Yishun, noted that the former Singapore striker used to live in Yishun, and his mother still lives there.

"When we met at the stadium, it was very clear he was still the super star that everyone was rushing to get autographs. Very proud of him," Mr Shanmugam said of the soccer star.

"Congratulations to Fandi again. I am sure with his experience, his passion for the game and the support from Singaporeans, he will do a great job," he said.

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