Tomorrow is D-Day for the Football Association of Singapore (FAS), which will meet local football legend Fandi Ahmad in a last-ditch attempt to keep him in their fold.
The Straits Times understands that Fandi, whose contract with the FAS expires in December, is mulling over a lucrative offer from Malaysian Super League (MSL) side Pahang FA.
Currently an FAS staff coach, he played for Pahang from 1991 to 1992, winning the Malaysia League and Cup double in 1992.
FANDI IS KEY
We see Fandi continuing to play an important and significant role in Singapore football but it is premature to comment as our talks are still ongoing.
'FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION OF SINGAPORE SPOKESMAN declines to speculate on Fandi Ahmad's FAS future.
THE PRESIDENT'S MAN
Fandi is under contract with the FAS. But yes, he has a great relationship with our president.
FUZ ZEMI IBRAHIM, Pahang general secretary, acknowledges that Fandi is on good terms with Pahang FA president Tengku Abdul Rahman Sultan Ahmad Shah.
He also has a good relationship with Pahang FA president Tengku Abdul Rahman Sultan Ahmad Shah.
The 54-year-old, who is on a scouting trip in Indonesia, could not be reached for comment.
An FAS spokesman said last night: "The FAS has been in talks with Fandi for several months. We see Fandi continuing to play an important and significant role in Singapore football but it is premature to comment as our talks are still ongoing."
It is believed that Fandi, who is also helping national caretaker coach V. Sundramoorthy with the senior team, would prefer to stay - but only if the FAS backs his long-term plan for national youth teams over several major Games leading up to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
However, he was given no such assurances in his earlier meetings with FAS officials.
A source said Fandi's head was turned by Pahang as he was promised full support from the club over footballing decisions.
Pahang general secretary Fuz Zemi Ibrahim tried to play down the speculation over the move yesterday. He told The Straits Times: "Fandi is under contract with the FAS. But yes, he has a great relationship with our president."
Fandi's future has been shrouded in uncertainty ever since he rejected an offer to coach the Garena Young Lions, a developmental team comprising mostly members of the national Under-21 team, earlier this year. He also interviewed for the post of national coach after German Bernd Stange's contract ran out in April.
Should Fandi join Pahang, who are bottom of the 12-team MSL with three wins in 19 games, it would mark the end of his second stint in the FAS set-up. He had previously coached the Young Lions from 2003 to 2006.
The tactician, popular with the Lions because of his glorious playing career and man-management skills, guided them to two third-placed finishes in the S-League - their best showings.
The former national captain subsequently spent six years coaching Pelita Raya in Indonesia and Johor Darul Takzim in Malaysia. He returned as coach of the LionsXII after the 2013 season, taking over from Sundram. The now-defunct LionsXII played in the MSL from 2012 to last year.
Fandi's crowning achievement with the LionsXII came in May last year when he won the Malaysia FA Cup. The LionsXII were booted out of the MSL after last year's campaign.
Fandi also coached S-League club Singapore Armed Forces FC (now known as Warriors FC) from 2000 to 2002, guiding them to two S-League titles.