Irfan Fandi Not Living In Famous Father’s Shadow

Irfan Fandi admits he did not expected to be called upon so early in the 28th SEA Games during their Group A opener against Philippines on Monday night.

The forward had not been included in the starting line-up, but was thrown into the fray in front of a sold-out Jalan Besar crowd after 36 minutes with the match still scoreless.

“Actually, I was quite surprised to come in so early as I thought the coach would put me in the second half to create more attacking options,” Irfan told the press on Wednesday at the team’s hotel base.

The 17-year-old went on to impress throughout the game with some fine hold-up play, while also creating two good chances for Sahil Suhaimi. He came close to scoring as well, with the Young Lions eventually running out 1-0 victors.

Fandi family cheers on Irfan

Irfan also felt “very honoured” to play in front of his family, with father Fandi Ahmad in the stands while mother Wendy Jacobs watched from the VIP area with his siblings.

“My whole family was there except for my brother (Ikhsan), who’s in Chile, so I just gave everything,” he recalled. “After the game, I saw them and I felt good, and my dad said I played a very good game and should keep on working harder.”

Head coach Aide Iskandar was pleased with Irfan’s performance, adding that his 1.87m frame gives the team a different dimension in attack. The former Lions captain also believes that he is not living in the shadow cast over him by his famous father.

“For Irfan, we must make sure that when he’s given a chance to play, he is able to contribute because there are a lot of expectations on his shoulders,” he explained.

“I believe this boy is strong mentally… a lot of people are comparing him to his father, but I think he’s his own man.”

While Aide remained coy on whether Irfan would start the next game against Myanmar on Thursday, the player himself is more than ready for it.

“I just want to focus on my game,” said Irfan, who is the youngest squad member. “Hopefully, if I start or I don’t start, I will just give my best.”

Adam Swandi (jersey number 5) celebrates as Singapore scores against the Philippines. Photo: SINGSOC/Action Images via Reuters
Adam Swandi (jersey number 5) celebrates as Singapore scores against the Philippines. Photo: SINGSOC/Action Images

Aide: Adam is like Pirlo

However, another starlet in the side looks likely to retain his starting berth, with Aide set to continue using Adam Swandi in central midfield.

It is a new role for the 19-year-old Adam, usually more accustomed to being deployed further upfront, but Aide is confident the skillful teenager can adapt – and drew comparisons between him and Italian maestro Andrea Pirlo.

“For Adam, one thing about him is that he has sublime technique, quite similar to Pirlo,” he said.
“He can orchestrate play from the back and if given a chance to play in front in the number 10 role, I’m pretty sure he can excel now because he knows how to attack and at the same time he also knows how to defend.”



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