Fandi's the right man for LionsXII, say local coaches
Give him time and the players he needs to do well.
Some former internationals The New Paper spoke to have come out in strong support for Fandi Ahmad, after this newspaper had published a comment by associate editor Leonard Thomas yesterday saying he was not good enough to coach the LionsXII.
The LionsXII failed to win for the second time in the Malaysia Cup group stage at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Tuesday night when they lost 2-1 to Pahang.
Last week, they drew 0-0 with Felda United.
The Singapore team's hopes of finishing in the top two in Group A to advance to the quarter-finals of the competition are hanging by a thread and this comes after they finished eighth in the Malaysian Super League (MSL), their lowest position since their return to Malaysia's club competitions in 2012.
But many believe Fandi is still a top coach and feel the performance of the LionsXII this season has been hindered by factors outside of his control.
Former Singapore defender and current Hougang United coach Amin Nasir, who will lead the S.League Selection side in the Sultan of Selangor's Cup after an excellent season with the Cheetahs, said: "I don't blame the critics, or if some fans blame the coach and players because they want the team to win.
"But many people don't understand things from a coach's point of view.
"Fandi was appointed rather late, he had less than a month to prepare for the MSL and he was not the one who picked the players in the team.
"Key players like Shahril Ishak, Hariss Harun, Fazrul Nawaz and Baihakki Khaizan, all of whom were able to score goals and lead the team, were not in the side. And, when you look at their matches, they created chances but were missing someone who could finish them off.
LITTLE PLAYING TIME
"Some of the players he has now were in last season's team, but they were younger fringe players who did not get much playing time until this season.
"So I would say, be patient, give Fandi time to assemble his team and go through a full pre-season for next year."
Players like midfielders Zulfahmi Arifin and Gabriel Quak were in and out of the side last season, but have featured regularly this year. Defender Afiq Yunos is also in his first season with the team.
Defender Madhu Mohana and winger Faris Ramli have impressed this year despite their National Service commitments, which meant they had to miss a number of training sessions.
Faris actually improved on his goal output, scoring six times compared to one goal last season.
Courts Young Lions assistant coach and former Singapore stalwart S Subramani spoke from experience, when he said: "When you cannot have a full squad for training... then it becomes difficult for the team to deliver.
"Half of last year's starters were replaced, so it's almost like a new team and they need time to get into the groove. But injuries and National Service commitments mean they did not have this luxury.
"We have to be fair to Fandi. If he is expected to do well, he must be given the support he needs.
"To me, he is a good coach who inspires young players."
Tampines Rovers coach Rafi Ali, the former Lions midfield star, also feels Fandi is the right man for the LionsXII job.
He said: "I've worked with him when we were at SAFFC. Tactically, he's good. In terms of attacking philosophy, he's fantastic. He will analyse the strengths and weaknesses of opponents and relay this to the players.
"I feel the players must show their pride and passion. I've watched the LionsXII play this season and sometimes they lack the commitment, which must be there all the time."
Bring back shahril ishak, who is someone the team can look up to as a captain, but also as a figure of reassurance in attack. if they bring back shahril and Fandi still cannot deliver, then he has to go.
- Former Singapore captain Samad Allapitchay feels Fandi must be given free rein to sign his own players