Irfan set to star for S'pore U-21s at AFC U-23 qualifiers
Nearly two decades after his famous father collected the last of his 101 caps for Singapore, Irfan Fandi Ahmad could soon follow in his dad's footsteps and represent the Republic in an official international tournament.
It could come as soon as March next year as the Singapore Under-21s head to China for the 2016 AFC Under-23 Championship qualifiers.
Singapore will play Group J hosts China, Laos and Mongolia. The 10 group winners and five best runners-up will qualify for the tournament proper, alongside hosts Qatar.
With his stout 1.87-metre physique and powerful finishing, 17-year-old Universidad Catolica striker Irfan, who had trained with the Chilean side's first team, would be the perfect fit for Richard Bok's national Under-21s.
The former SAFFC coach, who won four S.League titles and three Singapore Cups, said: "Any player who has the ability and is eligible and available, we will have a look.
"Irfan is a very direct and powerful player, who has definitely improved in terms of physique.
"I've spoken to Fandi, and we are definitely keen to add to our attacking options and to have a closer look at him when he trains with the rest of the team."
After one-and-a-half years in Chile, Irfan and his 15-year-old brother Ikhsan are back in Singapore for holidays during the off-season.
They were already training with their father's LionsXII side on Thursday, despite touching down just the day before.
Although it remains to be seen whether Irfan can mix it with the older boys, he did not look out of place during the finishing drills, consistently powering in most of his shots.
He also impressed in last year's Lion City Cup, where he played for the National Football Academy Under-16s and scored against the Arsenal and Eintracht Frankfurt youth teams.
Irfan and Ikhsan are under a six-figure sponsorship deal from banking group CIMB, while the F-17 Academy also helps to arrange for their overseas attachment.
Irfan, who was the only Singaporean named in British newspaper The Guardian's 40 best young talents in world football in October, told The New Paper: "I'm definitely keen to play in the AFC Under-23 Championship qualifiers.
"At Catolica, I've learnt a lot about how to behave as a professional footballer on and off the pitch, and as a No. 9, I have improved on my speed and technique.
"Now I'm waiting for my O-level results, which should be out in February, before deciding what to do next. If selected for the Singapore Under-21s, I will give my best."
If given the chance to pick the best possible team, Bok's squad are likely to feature the likes of Adam Swandi, Iqbal Hussain and Anumanthan Mohan Kumar, who have all been capped at senior level.
Those who represented Singapore at the 2010 Youth Olympics, such as Ammirul Emmran Mazlan, Muhaimin Suhaimi and Jeffrey Lightfoot, would also be eligible.
Bok added: "It is an honour to be given this assignment. If we go with our best players, we will have a fighting chance against China, Laos and Mongolia.
"China are hosts and Asian powerhouses. They have big and strong players, many of whom are 1.80m or taller, and they will be the favourites.
"If we can get a good result against them, we will have a good chance to progress from the group."