Ikhsan's hat-trick not enough to ensure win

Ikhsan Fandi with his Lion City Cup Man of the Match award last night. He pulled the Singapore U-16s back from 0-3 down against the Liverpool U-15s but the visitors won 5-3 on penalties.
Ikhsan Fandi with his Lion City Cup Man of the Match award last night. He pulled the Singapore U-16s back from 0-3 down against the Liverpool U-15s but the visitors won 5-3 on penalties.ST PHOTO: DEEPANRAJ GANESAN

It was the football tournament that launched his father's storied career and last night, Ikhsan Fandi, the second son of former Singapore captain Fandi Ahmad, announced his arrival by scoring a memorable hat-trick in 10 minutes for the Singapore Under-16s against the Liverpool U-15s in the Lion City Cup.

Although the 15-year-old forward was unable to prevent his team from losing, his goals helped Singapore claw back from 0-3 to draw 3-3 before losing 3-5 on penalties.

A beaming Fandi said: "I am so happy for him. He deserves this moment and I am very proud.

"Ikhsan is someone who thrives on good service and you saw how he made his chances count.

"Now both my sons have scored in the Cup."

In the first Lion City Cup held in 1977, a 16-year-old Fandi inspired the Singapore side to a 5-0 win over Pahang in the final at the National Stadium. In the 2012 edition, his eldest son Irfan scored against the Arsenal U-15s in a 1-2 loss.

In yesterday's semi-final against Liverpool, Ikhsan was a frustrated figure up front for the Singapore side in the first half as he was starved of service. But he took the game to the Reds after the interval.

In the 46th minute, he stunned the visitors with a solo goal as he hurdled over tackles before firing past a stunned George Neave in the Liverpool goal with his left foot.

Six minutes later, he added a second with his right boot when he picked up Saifullah Akbar's through ball, side-stepped Neave and slotted into an empty net.

He completed his hat-trick in the 56th minute when he met Saifullah's cross with an emphatic header at the far post.

In the evening's earlier match, the Singapore U-15s went down 0-3 to Tottenham Hotspur.

Spurs' U-15 side will face Liverpool in the final while it will be an all-Singaporean clash in the play-off for third and fourth places.

Deepanraj Ganesan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 15, 2015, with the headline 'Ikhsan's hat-trick not enough to ensure win'. Print Edition | Subscribe