Football: Fandi's the right man

Football: Fandi's the right man

Give him time and the players he needs to do well.

Some former internationals The New Paper spoke to have come out in strong support for Fandi Ahmad, after this newspaper had published a comment by associate editor Leonard Thomas yesterday saying he was not good enough to coach the LionsXII.

The LionsXII failed to win for the second time in the Malaysia Cup group stage at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Tuesday night when they lost 2-1 to Pahang. Last week, they drew 0-0 with Felda United.

The Singapore team's hopes of finishing in the top two in Group A to advance to the quarter-finals of the competition are hanging by a thread and this comes after they finished eighth in the Malaysian Super League (MSL), their lowest position since their return to Malaysia's club competitions in 2012.

But many believe Fandi is still a top coach and feel the performance of the LionsXII this season has been hindered by factors outside of his control.

Former Singapore defender and current Hougang United coach Amin Nasir, who will lead the S.League Selection side in the Sultan of Selangor's Cup after an excellent season with the Cheetahs, said: "I don't blame the critics, or if some fans blame the coach and players because they want the team to win.

"But many people don't understand things from a coach's point of view.

"Fandi was appointed rather late, he had less than a month to prepare for the MSL and he was not the one who picked the players in the team.

"Key players like Shahril Ishak, Hariss Harun, Fazrul Nawaz and Baihakki Khaizan, all of whom were able to score goals and lead the team, were not in the side. And, when you look at their matches, they created chances but were missing someone who could finish them off.

LITTLE PLAYING TIME

"Some of the players he has now were in last season's team, but they were younger fringe players who did not get much playing time until this season.

"So I would say, be patient, give Fandi time to assemble his team and go through a full pre-season for next year."

Players like midfielders Zulfahmi Arifin and Gabriel Quak were in and out of the side last season, but have featured regularly this year. Defender Afiq Yunos is also in his first season with the team.

Defender Madhu Mohana and winger Faris Ramli have impressed this year despite their National Service commitments, which meant they had to miss a number of training sessions. Faris actually improved on his goal output, scoring six times compared to one goal last season.

Courts Young Lions assistant coach and former Singapore stalwart S Subramani spoke from experience, when he said: "When you cannot have a full squad for training... then it becomes difficult for the team to deliver.

"Half of last year's starters were replaced, so it's almost like a new team and they need time to get into the groove. But injuries and National Service commitments mean they did not have this luxury.

"We have to be fair to Fandi. If he is expected to do well, he must be given the support he needs.

"To me, he is a good coach who inspires young players."

TACTICALLY GOOD

Tampines Rovers coach Rafi Ali, the former Lions midfield star, also feels Fandi is the right man for the LionsXII job.

He said: "I've worked with him when we were at SAFFC. Tactically, he's good. In terms of attacking philosophy, he's fantastic. He will analyse the strengths and weaknesses of opponents and relay this to the players.

"I feel the players must show their pride and passion. I've watched the LionsXII play this season and sometimes they lack the commitment, which must be there all the time."


This article was first published on August 21, 2014.
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What the 12th man says

TNP readers give their take on whether Fandi should stay or go

HE MUST STAY

Fandi Ahmad should be given more time to impose and improve his own football philosophy. Although he has been tinkering with his line-ups and tactics, next year may be a better time to gauge his performance. With his experience, the team will improve. It's the mindset of the players that has to change, not the coach's.

- Jason H C

I really pity Fandi. I believe he is a bit like David Moyes and Louis van Gaal. Like Moyes, he inherited a championship team from V Sundramoorthy. but his team just couldn't click. Like van Gaal, he advocates an attacking philosophy, but he needs time for the players to understand his style. There is nothing wrong with Fandi. He needs time and trust. The real problem lies with the players. Maybe they have been playing too many games in the Malaysian Super League (MSL), Malaysia Cup, international friendlies and so on. The FAS should give Fandi all the support he needs.

- Yang Rashidi B Samsudin

The players should take responsibility for the poor performances this season. Give him one more season, then we can judge him.

- Mohamed Zackria

Judge Fandi when he gets to form his own team. He basically inherited this team from his predecessor Sundram. The players should give their 200 per cent on the field, which I don't think they are. Yes, Fandi's good enough as a coach.

- Khalik

HE SHOULD GO

This season, the LionsXII have been shocking and it is apparent that the boys have lost the fire in their bellies. It's true that we lost two key players (in Hariss Harun and Shahril Ishak), but those two do not make a team. The majority of the players who won the title last season are still around. It is down to Fandi to motivate his players but he has failed.

- Eugene

Fandi was a great player, a legend, arguably one of our greatest. However, in world football, top players don't always make good coaches and top coaches weren't always great players. He has coached in Singapore and also abroad in Malaysia and Indonesia. He may very well be a great coach at youth or club level but he doesn't have the "gravitas" to make it as a national coach.

- Prasad Nair

Maybe someone should ask Johor Darul Ta'zim why Fandi was relieved of his duties. He may be a legend in the eyes of the fans and the media, but he's not good enough as a coach. The biggest mistake the FAS made was to let Sundram go because he did a fantastic job with the LionsXII last season and he has the potential to be Singapore's next national coach.

- Chiang Ging Seng

Fandi's appointment as LionsXII coach brought hope to Singapore football but the results have not met the mark. He can be compared to Moyes. Moyes took charge of champions Manchester United and we all know what happened. Like Man United, MSL champions LionsXII struggled with lacklustre performances throughout the season. Fandi should quit before his legendary status gets tainted.

- ukai1997@hotmail.com

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