Fandi's sons aim to follow in father's footsteps
One of the first things that greeted Irfan and Ikhsan Fandi in Holland, where they arrived for football trials with FC Groningen on Monday, was the Beep Test.
The fitness test, which was mandatory for S-League players from 2002 to 2012, was a major obstacle for local footballers after several high-profile names struggled to pass it.
There were no such fears for the brothers though, as 20-year-old Irfan said: "It wasn't the full Beep Test anyway. Once our heart rate got to a certain point, they stopped. They told us they did this for all newcomers, just to have an idea of our fitness levels."
The national defender and his younger sibling have travelled with their father Fandi to his former club for a 10-day trial with Groningen's Under-23 team, in the hope of earning a professional contract.
Fandi played for Groningen in the top-tier Eredivisie from 1983 to 1985. Former team-mate Ron Jans is the current technical director.
Irfan and Ikhsan, who both completed their national service last month, have long expressed their ambition to play in Europe and have undergone training stints in England and Spain.
On Tuesday, their second day with the U-23s, they trained with first-team players Juninho Bacuna, Uriel Antuna and Ritsu Doan. The duo said they were not overawed and felt they held their own.
Fandi noted a Groningen scout also gave him positive feedback on his sons' performances. Their training stint ends next Tuesday.
Hopefully, Groningen will invite the brothers back for another trial which could lead to an eventual contract offer, said Fandi, who is the Republic's U-23 coach.
One stumbling block is the Dutch football association's rule, where Eredivisie clubs must pay non-European Union players a high basic annual salary in order to be granted a work permit. This is to encourage clubs to develop local talent.
For players aged 18 or 19, that salary is about 200,000 euros (S$326,000) and 400,000 euros for older ones.