Both Ikhsan and Irfan Fandi Ahmad have acknowledged that being part of the Singapore Under-23 squad for the first time has already been an eye-opener for the both of them.
Irfan, 17, and his younger brother Ikhsan, 15, were shock inclusions in the recently named Cubs squad due to travel with the Senior National Team for a three-week training tour in Salzburg, Austria.
Sons of Singapore footballing legend and current LionsXII head coach Fandi Ahmad, the two are looking to gain experience by learning from their older teammates.
“It’s a good experience for me to be in the team,” Irfan told FourFourTwo.
“I get to mix around with the older players and this way, I can learn more from them."
“I feel lucky, because I am only 15, to train with the Under 23s will only help me get stronger,” Ikhsan admitted.
Both boys had been training in Chile prior to linking up with Aide Iskandar’s charges earlier last week after securing two-year contracts with Chilean second division side AC Banerchea’s academy side.
They had previously trained with Spanish side Hercules CF, but failed to secure contracts due to a problem with visas.
The stint in Chile has already reaped benefits according to the teenagers themselves, who have bulked up and grown considerably since they were last spotted in the Lion City.
“Training has been really intense,” Irfan shared.
“I think now, we are both capable of playing faster and we think faster in the game. I learned a lot there; to be a good player both in the field and outside, learning responsibility.
“The people there want to play harder, it’s like when they play football, they only focus on their football and not other stuff. They have more perseverance.”
It was a view shared by Ihksan, who hopes his experience in Chile can rub off on his NFA teammates and perhaps edge them on.
“Compared to the football in Singapore, it’s (the standards) much better there,” he confessed.
“There, we can improve our skills and come back to Singapore to teach some of our teammates, [and hopefully] maybe inspire them to train harder."
However, both players conceded that they are unlikely to be involved in the SEA Games next year, which will be held in Singapore, although the 1.84m tall Irfan refuses to throw in the towel.
“I’ll try my very best,” he said.comments