Football: Fandi Ahmad's sons Irfan and Ikhsan set for Holland stint next month

Ikhsan and Irfan Fandi (right), sons of Singapore football legend Fandi Ahmad, autographing a jersey at Changi Airport before departing for the SEA Games on Aug 12, 2017.
Ikhsan and Irfan Fandi (right), sons of Singapore football legend Fandi Ahmad, autographing a jersey at Changi Airport before departing for the SEA Games on Aug 12, 2017. ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

SINGAPORE - Irfan and Ikhsan Fandi are set for an emotional homecoming next month when they travel to Holland.

The Sunday Times understands that the two older sons of Singapore football icon Fandi will attend trials at Dutch Eredivisie club Groningen.

The pair, who complete their national service next week, will train with Groningen's Under-21 team.

Fandi played for Groningen from 1983 to 1985 and his former team-mate then, Ron Jans, is now the club's technical director.

The 55-year-old former Lions captain said he and his sons will travel to Holland for about two weeks but declined to confirm that Groningen was their destination.

He said: "I'm excited for Irfan and Ikhsan. Hopefully, they will do enough on this trip to be invited for another."

The last time Irfan and Ikhsan, 20 and 18 respectively, visited Holland was in 2006. They had accompanied their father, who was invited to play in an exhibition match to mark the opening of the Groningen's new stadium.

During that trip, they went sightseeing around the city on bicycles and visited Fandi's Dutch "foster" mother.

Ikhsan, who will finish his NS on Wednesday (Feb 7), said: "It's obviously very exciting and I'm very happy to get this opportunity.

"The last time we were there, we found the people are very friendly, and the country is very nice. It's nice to know I may have a chance to play in Holland too, like my dad."

The 1.83m striker was reportedly a target for S-League champions Albirex Niigata to fill one of their two local Under-23 slots for this season but opted to sign with the Garena Young Lions, where Fandi is head coach.

Irfan, who finishes his NS next Sunday, was one of Home United's standout performers last year and the 1.89m centre-back also established himself as a first-choice defender for the national team.

He had received offers from Thai League 1 club Bangkok Glass and Chile first division side Universidad Catolica but has joined his younger brother at the Young Lions with the understanding that they be allowed the flexibility to attend overseas trials should the opportunity arise.

Irfan said he was hoping to "do Singapore proud".

Prior to the Groningen trials, both siblings were linked with a possible trial at English club Leeds United.

Ikhsan, who earned his first senior cap in a friendly against Hong Kong last August, said: "I'll be working hard to get my fitness levels up, and polish my finishing and touches, before we make the trip there."