Fandi can't cut it as top coach: Leonard Thomas
The 2014 Asian Games officially gets underway on Sept 19, with the football programme kicking off five days earlier.
The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) has yet to name the coach that will lead the Under-23s in Incheon, South Korea.
The South-east Asia (SEA) Games will return to Singapore next June after a 22-year break, the holy grail of a first football gold is the official target, but the FAS has yet to appoint the coach charged to deliver the historic win.
It is hardly the professional way.
For months now, the football grapevine has continued to throw up different names that will be given coaching duties for the respective assignments.
Aide Iskandar is the favourite to get the job for the SEA Games next year as he is leading the Courts Young Lions in the Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League and a majority of the team's players will feature at next year's Games.
But some believe LionsXII coach Fandi Ahmad could still get the nod for the SEA Games.
The same two names are mentioned for next month's Asiad, national coach Bernd Stange is always in the mix for both positions.
It boggles the mind why the FAS has yet to officially name the men to be given the responsibility of guiding the two teams for what are huge assignments that will require as much preparation as possible.
The jury is still out on former Singapore defender Aide, whose Courts Young Lions have failed to impress in the S.League.
They are many who will want Fandi to get the nod but, based on the struggles of the LionsXII this term, surely he is not good enough.
The team were always going to miss national captain Shahril Ishak and midfield powerhouse Hariss Harun, who were crucial in the charge to the 2013 Malaysian Super League title.
And, with Malaysian clubs allowed one extra foreign signing on the pitch - from two last season to three this year - the mission was even more difficult for the Singapore outfit made up of 16 players aged 23 or under, and 11 seniors.
But many of the players in Fandi's team featured in the last two MSL campaigns when the LionsXII finished second and first, respectively.
They learnt valuable lessons, they gained experience and, if further development was Fandi's major task for 2014, after he took over the reins from V Sundramoorthy, then he has failed to bring the young players on.
Fandi's team had little chance of defending the MSL crown but the main goal had to be improving the individuals and names like Shahfiq Ghani and Faris Ramli have not become better footballers.
Fandi has deployed gifted centre back Safuwan Baharudin in defence, midfield and in attack through the course of the year.
The 22-year-old has not been allowed to bed down even further in his best position and his form has clearly suffered.
Fandi will forever be Singapore's football hero, his name continues to raise loud cheers, he continues to have a huge fan base but, as a coach, I don't believe the 52-year-old can cut it in the big leagues.
For much of the year, he insisted his team would play only attacking football because he wanted to entertain and capture the imagination of the fans, but attendance at Jalan Besar has dwindled as his men struggled for goals, with Khairul Amri the top scorer on just seven.
Then, just before the opening Malaysia Cup opener against Felda United last week, he suddenly said it would be safety first, and the LionsXII lost 1-0 at home.
In 2012, the LionsXII's combined home record (MSL and Malaysia Cup) was 11 wins, four draws and three losses.
Last year, it was 13-2-0.
After last night's loss to Pahang, it stands at only four wins this season, with four draws and five losses.
Fandi must hold his hand up, and take responsibility.
Having signed an MOU with the Japan FA, perhaps it is time the FAS sends Fandi and Aide to Asia's No. 1 football nation for lengthy coaching assignments to develop them further.
As we wait for the FAS to tell us who will lead Singapore's football team at the Asian Games and next year's SEA Games, it is a worry that the country does not have a wider pool of coaches to choose from.
As we talk about pulling out the stops to develop youngsters like Hariss, Safuwan and Adam Swandi, it is imperative the country also invests heavily in turning out top-quality coaches.
Is Fandi good enough as a coach?
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