SINGAPORE: Local football icon Fandi Ahmad will lead Singapore's national team for the 2018 ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup, while the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) continues its search for a head coach.
A new national team head coach will be appointed from January 2019, FAS said on Tuesday (May 15). The association has been looking to fill the position since V Sundramoorthy stepped down, as announced last month.
Fandi will remain as the Young Lions Head Coach in the Great Eastern-Hyundai Singapore Premier League. He continues to lead the Under-23 project, as well as next year’s Southeast Asian (SEA) Games and the 2020 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under-23 Championship qualification, said FAS.
After the AFF Suzuki Cup, Fandi will "continue to work closely" with the new national team head coach to "ensure continuity in the development pipeline" from the Under-23s to the national team, the association added.
The next national team head coach will be appointed with a view to build the national team from the youth level, said FAS.
This is "to ensure that there is a structure in place that encompasses player development and a congruent style of play" that will build Singapore’s competitiveness in international tournaments in the long-run.
“The FAS Council has a long-term vision and plan for the national team," said FAS President Lim Kia Tong.
"We do not want to hurry the appointment of the coach because we want the next national team coach to be able to bring the national team to the level we so desire, and to ensure that the national team’s style of play is one that the whole of Singapore will aspire toward."
Singapore is drawn in Group B in the 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup and will face Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines and the winner of the qualification round. The Lions will play the first match at home against Indonesia on Nov 9, 2018.
AFF SUZUKI CUP A SIGNIFICANT TOURNAMENT: FANDI
Fandi said that while the Under-23 National Team remains a crucial project for him, the AFF Suzuki Cup is also a significant tournament for Singapore.
"Hence, I decided to take up the responsibility of leading the Lions for the tournament," he added.
The 55-year-old has guided Young Lions to two wins and a draw in four league games so far this year, representing the team's best start to a season in recent times.
However, the Singapore Under-21 side crashed out in the semi-finals of the recent Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy under Fandi's tutelage.
Fandi's two eldest sons, Irfan and Ikhsan, are part of the senior national setup.
The Lions are currently ranked 172nd in the FIFA ranking. They are the sixth-highest ranking team in Southeast Asia, behind Vietnam, Philippines, Thailand, Myanmar and Indonesia.
Speculation has been mounting as to who will fill the vacant head coach post, with names such as Home United’s Aidil Sharin as well as former England players Terry Butcher and Tony Adams mentioned in connection with the role.
Last month, a source with knowledge of the matter told Channel NewsAsia that former Arsenal footballer Adams had applied for the position.