U-21 footballers to play in inaugural Nations Cup
Singapore U-21s to take on regional rivals in inaugural Nations Cup
He saw how his players fared against one of the best sides in Asia when the team went to Teheran two weeks ago.
In two months' time, national Under-21 football coach Richard Tardy will see how his boys compare to some of the top teams in the region.
Yesterday, the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) confirmed its participation in the inaugural Nations Cup in Malacca, from June 3 to 5.
Organised by media rights company MP & Silva - who signed a six-year, $25-million partnership with FAS in February last year - the Nations Cup is slated to be an annual tournament.
This year's edition will feature the Under-21 national teams of Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand.
Tardy is looking forward to the quadrangular, after his charges recently lost narrowly in two sparring matches (1-0 on March 26 and 2-0 two days later) to their Iranian counterparts.
SEA GAMES IN MIND
"We brought a young team to Teheran, with an average age of 19.5, because we... (had) next year's SEA Games in mind," the French coach told The New Paper.
"It was a beneficial experience for the team to face an opponent with different tactics at a good level.
"I know (our) players already, but it was important to be able to get together as a team so they can train and play together.
"This will also allow me to test out different tactics and formations.
"For example, I didn't know what Irfan Fandi could do as a defender, but he showed in two tough matches that he can be a very solid defender in the future.
"Ikhsan Fandi can be the next good striker for Singapore because he has the physique for it, and has a good feel for the goal.
"Other players also impressed me, like Amir Zalani from Home United and Rusyaidi Salime from Garena Young Lions."
Of the 21-strong squad Tardy named for the Teheran trip, 12 are from the Garena Young Lions and four from Home United, including local icon Fandi Ahmad's two sons Irfan and Ikhsan.
Other S.League clubs Tampines Rovers, Warriors FC, Hougang United, Geylang International and Balestier Khalsa all had a player each in the squad.
Tardy, who assisted former Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier during France's U-18 European Championship triumph in 1996, led Rwanda to the Under-17 World Cup in 2011 and was hired by the FAS last July as a head coach of the national youth teams.
While the FAS has not made a formal appointment ahead of next year's SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur, it is understood the Frenchman is the frontrunner to lead the team.
The 65-year-old said the FAS has a "long-term plan" to prepare for the biennial tournament.
"It is still too early to tell how we will do at the SEA Games... but we have a long-term plan to prepare well for this," said Tardy.
"The target for now is to find more friendly games against strong opponents, and participate in competitions like the Nations Cup, to give this team opportunities to experience international football.
"I like the spirit of this team and I hope we can stay together because I believe we can achieve a lot together.
"Having said that, I want to stress that the door to the Under-21 national team is always open (to any player) - it will be excellent for Singapore if we can find more good players in the next year and a half."