Irfan, Ikhsan set for trials in Holland next month

Ikhsan Fandi, the second son of the Singapore icon, will travel to Holland next month for trials with Dutch club Groningen's Under-21 side. The 18-year-old will be joined by his older brother Irfan, 20.
Ikhsan Fandi, the second son of the Singapore icon, will travel to Holland next month for trials with Dutch club Groningen's Under-21 side. The 18-year-old will be joined by his older brother Irfan, 20.ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO

Irfan and Ikhsan Fandi are set for an emotional "homecoming" next month when they travel to the Netherlands.

The Sunday Times understands that the two older sons of Singapore football icon Fandi Ahmad 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, 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 Fandi, who played 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, 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 striker was reportedly a target for S-League champions Albirex Niigata to fill one of their two local Under-23 slots but opted to sign with the Garena Young Lions, where Fandi is head coach.

Irfan finishes his NS next Sunday. He 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 on the understanding that they be allowed the flexibility to attend overseas trials should the opportunity arise. He said he hoped to "do Singapore proud".

Prior to the Groningen trials, both 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."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 04, 2018, with the headline 'Irfan, Ikhsan set for trials in Holland next month'. Print Edition | Subscribe