Fandi and FAS to part ways in April
Departure set for next month after he turned down coaching role with Garena Young Lions
Fandi Ahmad has retreated from the touchlines of the Malaysian Super League (MSL) to the stands of Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League clubs, and sources have revealed that as soon as next month, he will be off the payroll of the Football Association of Singapore (FAS).
Fandi has been without a team after the LionsXII were unceremoniously dumped out of the MSL at the end 2015, and after rejecting the FAS offer to lead the Garena Young Lions in the S.League this season, he has spent his days filling the role of assistant to national coach Bernd Stange.
The German is set to depart when his contract ends next month, and while some in the fraternity have called for Fandi to take over the reins of the national team, the latest development is a clear indication that the former Singapore captain is out of the picture.
Fandi's contract with the FAS runs out only in November this year, and he has been scouting players, paying visits to clubs and has also travelled to Malaysia to watch Singapore internationals Hariss Harun, Baihakki Khaizan, Shahril Ishak and Safuwan Baharudin turn out for their respective Malaysian clubs.
But sources reveal that after some four months of negotiations aimed at finding Fandi a full-time position within the FAS, both parties were unable to come to an agreement of where he can best serve.
Fandi is set to leave after the Lions' final Group E World Cup qualifier (WCQ) against Afghanistan on March 29.
TNP understands that with the year-end AFF Suzuki Cup the national team's only other major assignment for the year, the FAS sees no need for a full-time assistant to the national coach.
"I have met with the FAS Exco (Executive Committee), given them my proposal and plans of what I would like to do. Now I'm not sure what the situation is, I'm waiting for them to tell me what they want me to do," he told The New Paper in an earlier interview, declining to reveal what his proposal entailed.
"I'm standing here with open arms, I'll be willing to accept whatever they decide."
Sources revealed that Fandi's proposal was focused on youth development, but his rejection of the FAS offer to work on the Young Lions raised eyebrows and seemed to have soured negotiations.
The Young Lions were an Under-23 developmental side last year, but have been tweaked to become one comprising mostly Under-21 players in 2016, and are now under the watch of newly-hired Frenchman, Patrick Hesse.
While Fandi declined to elaborate on his decision to turn down the position, TNP understands that it stems from the issue of player selection.
With Fandi declining the role of Young Lions head coach, the relationship is set to come to an end after the Afghanistan fixture.
"I'm helping Bernd scout players in the league, accompanying him on club visits, and even going to Malaysia to watch our players there. Right now my job is to help Bernd to prepare for the WCQ," said Fandi.
"After that, I don't know."
While he has enjoyed title success as a coach in the S.League (with then SAFFC, now Warriors FC) and led the LionsXII to Malaysian FA Cup success last year, Fandi could have become even better. Perhaps then, he would have been ready to be coach of the Lions. Right now, it just seems like this is a wasted opportunity.