Football: Fandi Ahmad named interim national coach, will lead Lions at AFF Suzuki Cup

Fandi Ahmad succeeds V. Sundram Moorthy, who stepped down after almost two years in charge on April 9, 2018.
Fandi Ahmad succeeds V. Sundram Moorthy, who stepped down after almost two years in charge on April 9, 2018.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - Former national captain Fandi Ahmad has been named the Lions' coach until the end of the year by the Football Association of Singapore (FAS).

The announcement was made at Jalan Besar Stadium on Tuesday (May 15) by FAS president Lim Kia Tong and vice-president Edwin Tong.

"The FAS council takes a long-term vision and plan for the national team. The Lions have to excite fans and ignite the nation each time they are stepping on to the turf," said Lim.

"We are looking at the matter holistically and we do not want to rush the appointment. We want the next coach to take the national team to the level we desire.

"We are also aware that this is a crucial year for the Lions, with Singapore playing Indonesia (in the AFF Cup) in the opening game on Nov 9. With that in mind, we are pleased to announce Fandi Ahmad as the national coach for the AFF Cup."

Fandi, who will turn 56 on May 29, succeeds V. Sundram Moorthy, who stepped down after almost two years in charge on April 9.

A former star striker with the Lions, Fandi has been given the task of leading the team, currently ranked 172nd out of world governing body Fifa's 211 member nations, at the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup.

He said: "It's all about pride and passion (to represent Singapore). If selected, the players need to have fire and desire.

"I know them very well as a friend and as a coach. Heart is very important for me. We have not been doing well in the last few years, I am not sure why. But I know how to motivate them (the Lions).

"Technically, I can't teach them anymore. But if I can give them fresh ideas in training and be smart tactically and if our players show discipline, determination and dedication, we can match anyone. That's why I am not too worried and I am willing to take up this challenge."

The biennial regional tournament sees Singapore drawn in Group B. The Lions will begin their campaign on Nov 9 at the National Stadium by hosting Indonesia before playing the Philippines away (Nov 13), a qualifying-round winner at Kallang (Nov 21) and defending champions Thailand (Nov 25).

But the FAS will continue its search for another coach to lead Singapore from next year and beyond. Former England defenders Terry Butcher and Tony Adams have both reportedly applied for the post.

After a successful playing career which saw him skipper the Lions to the Malaysia League and Cup double in 1994, Fandi began coaching in 2000, leading Warriors FC (then called Singapore Armed Forces FC) to the S-League title in 2000 and 2002. He was also named the S-League's Coach of the Year in 2000.

In 2015, as the coach of the now-defunct LionsXII team, he took the side to Malaysian FA Cup glory.

Now the FAS' head coach (youth) who oversees the SEA Games and Asian Games squads, Fandi was also given the additional task of leading the Young Lions in the Singapore Premier League this year.