Team Singapore

Fandi: Irfan must keep his feet on the ground

Asian cup QUALIFIERS (GROUP E)
Bahrain Singapore

During his playing days, he scored against mighty opponents such as Inter Milan, Arsenal and Boca Juniors.

But those moments will pale in comparison with the pride Fandi Ahmad will feel if 19-year-old Irfan, the first of his five children, makes his first competitive bow for the senior national team against Bahrain tomorrow.

"As a father, it is a proud moment because he has always wanted to follow in my footsteps since young," said Fandi (above), who is also assistant to national coach V Sundramoorthy.

"But he must not get carried away. This is only the beginning if he wants to achieve more."

Fandi, whose illustrious international career saw him score 55 goals in 101 international appearances, revealed that Irfan had played in numerous positions from a young age.

He said: "At first, he was a goalkeeper, then a defensive midfielder, and then a defender.

"He started playing as a striker only after he went to school, when his coaches saw that he was big and powerful."

But Fandi feels his son's best position is at the back, where he is likely to start against Bahrain in the Asian Cup third-round Group E qualifier tomorrow.

"He is still raw as a defender and has got a lot to learn. He needs to be more vocal, and improve on his communication and defending," said Fandi, who incidentally scored in a 2-0 friendly win over Bahrain in 1982, although that was not considered a Fifa 'A' international.

"As a young defender playing for the national team, he needs a lot of support.

"With his physique and technique, and the guidance of Sundram and the senior players, he can be a good defender if he keeps his feet on the ground." 
- DAVID LEE

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