Younger Fandi gives his namesake reason to despair

When LionsXII coach Fandi Ahmad met Johor Darul Takzim II (JDT II) player Fandi Ahmad last Saturday, the younger Fandi, 23, was in awe.

They shook hands before last Saturday's Malaysia Cup Group A clash at Pasir Gudang Stadium.

The pair were on opposite sides in a game where both teams needed to win to breathe life into their ailing cup campaigns.

But something told the senior Fandi, 52, before the game that his namesake would get on the scoresheet. "I had a gut feeling he'd score and he did, which left me at a loss for words," said the LionsXII coach.

But the JDT II striker's goal did not just leave the Singapore football legend speechless.

His 81st-minute strike condemned the LionsXII to a 1-2 defeat, leaving them winless in the Malaysia Cup so far, having drawn once against group leaders Felda United and lost twice against current holders Pahang and JDT II.

"Not only was I happy to score and help my team win, I was also proud to have done so against a team coached by someone whom I was named after," the younger Fandi, 23, told The Straits Times at Jalan Besar Stadium yesterday.

The Kota Tinggi native's name was chosen after his father became a fan of the former Singapore striker.

"My father watched him on the television in the 90s, and was wowed by his skills on the pitch," said the younger Fandi.

His father, who also watched him score the goal on television, would be pleased to see that some of the younger Fandi's game mimicked that of his older namesake.

He is not only good on the turn but also packs an accurate shot, says JDT II team co-ordinator Mahadzir Ahmad, who also coached him when he was part of JDT's Under-19 team in 2007.

"He may not be pacy or dribble like Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo or Gareth Bale but he's a hard worker and, most importantly, a goal poacher who will score when a chance comes his way, like how he did against the LionsXII last Saturday," said Mahadzir, 45.

However, the Malaysian frontman still lacks some of senior Fandi's iconic moves, like his trademark scissors kick.

While others may not welcome the pressure of sharing a name with someone famous, the younger Fandi has no qualms about telling others how he got that name.

"I like my name because it's the same as that of a footballing legend, and I hope I can eventually reach the same level of greatness that he attained during his illustrious career," said the younger Fandi.

This article was first published on August 26, 2014.
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