Fandi's youth players to the fore in Malaysia Super League
14 January, 2014
Fandi Ahmad speaking enthusiastically about Singapore football during the unveiling of LionsXII 2014 jerseys at Jalan Besar Stadium. (Photo by VoxSports)
Singapore’s footballing legend, Fandi Ahmad, is back after spending seven years travelling around the region, and is now tasked to lead defending Malaysia Super League (MSL) champions, LionsXII, in the 2014 campaign.
The past few years had seen the former national team captain make his name in Indonesia with Pelita Bandung Raya in 2006, adopting an aggressive youth policy which saw the club gaining promotion from the second division to the Super League. Recently, Fandi was coaching star-studded MSL side, Johor Darul Ta’zim but they parted ways on mutual consent prior to the 2013 Malaysia Cup.
Coaching the MSL champions definitely comes with its own set of pressure, but Fandi is taking it in his stride and setting his own set of objectives with the team.
“We are targeting a top three finish and I know everybody wants results and it is achievable. The team has some new faces for the upcoming season, but remains true to the original theme of youth development,” Fandi said during the unveiling of LionsXII 2014 jerseys at Jalan Besar Stadium on 14 January.
Safuwan Baharudin (second from left), Isa Halim (centre) and Gabriel Quak (second from right) showing off the new LionsXII jerseys. (Photo by VoxSports)
“With an average age of 22.5 years, we are definitely looking to continue developing players for the National Team. Even though they are young, they showed character and passion. With some of the senior players that are coming back, like Sufian (Anuar) and (Khairul) Amri, I believe we can guide them,” added the former national team assistant coach.
With all eyes on Fandi to deliver, he has the backing of Football Association of Singapore’s President, Zainudin Nordin.
“We are confident that despite the relative youth of coach Fandi’s team, they are not lacking in experience, both from senior professionals such as Isa Halim, Khairul Amri and Sufian Anuar, as well as the younger players, a number of whom both won Bronze at the 2013 SEA Games and are also full internationals,” explained the Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC Member of Parliament.
LionsXII will kick-start their campaign with a trip to Kuantan to face Pahang in the Charity Shield on 17 January, with the match also doubling up as a league encounter. Their first home game of the season will be against DRB Hicom four days later at the Bishan Stadium in the first round of the Malaysia FA Cup.