Aide urges Young Lions to follow Fandi example

Singapore Under-23 boss Aide Iskandar was left with nothing but praise for Irfan Fandi’s recent predatory displays in front of goal.

At just 17 years of age, Irfan has rapidly risen to the top of the strikers’ pecking order with two goals in as many international matches for the Young Lions over the last couple of weeks.

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And Aide revealed his delight at the level of influence the eldest son of Singapore football legend Fandi Ahmad has had on his side, but cautioned against fans and the media pushing him into the spotlight too soon.

“Our intention of getting Irfan for the friendly matches against Japan and Syria was to give him as many games as possible, as he did not join us for our recent trip to Turkey,” said the coach.

“It is nice to see him scoring goals against quality opponents, but we have to be careful in managing him as he is a very young player.”

His Syrian counterpart Muhannad Al-Fakeer added to the praise, stating his team could do with a player of Irfan’s quality to boost their standard of play.

“To me, Irfan is a very important player and he possesses a very good body to play football,” he said.

“But he needs to show his football mentality on the pitch so that he can be a famous player in the future.”

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With Irfan taking the plaudits for his goal-scoring feats in the recent matches, Aide has called on the other strikers in his team to step up their games.

“As good as he is, we will not want to rely too much on him,” the former national skipper added.

“It is now up to the likes of Amy Recha and [LionsXII forward] Sahil Suhaimi to try and provide competition for the forward position in the starting XI.”

Turning to the team, Aide was heartened by the overall performance as they bounced back from a humiliating showing against Japan Under-22s a week ago.

He was pleased to witness his charges putting their bodies on the line for the cause and displaying tenacity to match their Syrian counterparts.

“It was a much-improved performance from last week,” he continued.

“What we did not want – and did not see – was a hangover from the Japan game [to whom they lost 8-1].

“It was pleasing to see how the boys were pushing each other and going in hard with their bodies.”

Aide nevertheless admitted his charges have plenty of work yet to do, as their shortcomings were exposed in the Syria loss.

 “We have to learn to defend better as we were conceding too many free-kicks,” he pointed out, after watching Syria net the winner from one conceded in a dangerous position.

“The lapses of concentration we suffered in conceding the goals is also something we have to look for.

“Playing against quality teams, we also have to learn to convert the few chances that come our way during such matches.”

Photo credit: Weixiang Lim/FourFourTwo Singapore