Ikhsan Fandi scores first competitive goal for Norwegian club
National footballer Ikhsan Fandi impressed Raufoss IL coach Christian Johnsen 14 minutes after coming on as a substitute in Oslo, Norway, on Sunday.
The 20-year-old had replaced Ryan Doghman in the 75th minute when his team were 2-1 down and made his cameo count when he scored in the 89th minute to give the Norwegian second-tier club a 3-2 win over Skeid Fotball.
Winger Mikkel Maigaard crossed from the right and Ikhsan, with his back to goal, met the cross with a low, improvised bicycle-kick.
It was Ikhsan's first competitive goal for Raufoss.
Johnsen, 41, told The New Paper over the phone yesterday that he was delighted with Ikhsan's performance.
"He is strong, and has got good speed and mentality. As a striker, he's the type of player who's good in the box and can score goals," he said.
"But he's still young, so he can develop and improve, especially his stamina."
Asked if Ikhsan would start for the club, Johnsen said: "Yes, for sure. He's getting more and more ready.
"If he continues doing like yesterday and improves his physical level, I'm sure he will be a very good player."
Ikhsan has made only substitute appearances in six of Raufoss' seven league games.
However, he has started in the Norwegian Cup against Toten, playing in the first half.
Johnsen highlighted that Ikhsan was previously sick and was also away for the Asian Football Confederation Under-23 qualifiers in Mongolia.
"He was a little bit tired after that. But, now, he's improving again and doing very well," he said.
"We have good expectations for him."
Ikhsan, for his part, is enjoying his time in Norway where he lives "a more professional lifestyle".
Despite the jump in intensity, he looks forward to improving and contributing to the club.
"Of course I'd want to start more games, but coach (Johnsen) has a plan. I come in and give energy to the team," he said over the phone.
Ikhsan added that Sunday's winner was not his favourite goal since he started playing competitively seven years ago, but "definitely a special one to remember".
"I was shocked that the ball went in. Nothing was in my head but to focus on getting a clean strike."
His goal was the first time since the late 1980s that a Singapore international has found the net for a professional European club.
Former Lions striker V. Sundram Moorthy achieved the feat when he scored for Swiss club Basel during his stint there between 1988-89.
To that, Ikhsan said: "It feels just right. Someone had to do it, I'm grateful that I was able to."
Back in 1983, another player famously scored for Dutch club Groningen against Italian giants Inter Milan in the Uefa Cup, the forerunner to the Europa League.
The fabled Inter Milan side included names such as Giuseppe Baresi, Giuseppe Bergomi, Alessandro Altobelli and Walter Zenga.
The scorer of Groningen's second goal in their 2-0 victory was Fandi Ahmad, Ikhsan's father.