Singapore striker Ikhsan Fandi: Irfan and I are slowly stepping out of dad’s shadow

Singapore striker Ikhsan Fandi
Kelvin Leong Kelvin Leong

Ikhsan Fandi reckons he and his elder brother Irfan have proved once again that they are slowly stepping out of Fandi Ahmad’s shadow. 

Irfan and Ikhsan are considered key players in their father’s plans since the Singapore football icon replaced V. Sundram Moorthy as head coach of the national team in May.

The two brothers played in Singapore’s 1-1 draw and 2-0 win against Mauritius and Fiji respectively.

While Irfan continued cementing his spot in central defence, it was Ikhsan who stole the limelight with two goals in his first two starts for the Lions.

Shahril Ishak set him up for a superb equaliser in the Mauritius game before Gabriel Quak did the same for him in the Fiji match.

Singapore put two past Fiji to record first win under Fandi Ahmad

Since making his professional debut for Home United in the Singapore Premier League in 2016, the 19-year-old has been touted as the long-term solution to Singapore’s attacking woes.

Despite facing added pressure of being the coach’s son, Ikhsan believes it is up to him to justify his spot in the team.

“First of all, I’m a striker and my job is to score goals so I’m really glad to have done it and helped the team get the results that we wanted,” Ikhsan told FOX Sports Asia.

“I think me and my brother are used to it (pressure of being Fandi’s sons) and in these games, we’ve proven that we are slowly stepping out of his shadow.

“We managed to play our own game and earn our spot on this team so that is where I am at now.”

Ikhsan has been in good form at club level with seven goals for the Young Lions but he feels that it is a whole different ball game when you step up to the international level.

He added: “I’m just really happy to contribute and score the goals for the team.

“When you play with senior players like Shahril (Ishak), (Khairul) Amri and the rest of them, it sort of makes my job easier.

“They are so experienced and smart with the ball, I just have to make sure I am alert and make the correct runs and they will find me in between those lines.”

Singapore national teamWith another two international friendlies against Mongolia at home and Cambodia away in October, Ikhsan’s immediate focus is to keep his spot in the next call-up and be on the flight to Osaka, Japan for the Lions’ training camp.

Head coach Fandi is slated to name his final 23-man squad for the Suzuki Cup at the end of the camp in Osaka.

“We take it step by step. Next game is Mongolia and I want to keep working towards that and keep doing what I’m doing,” the jovial striker remarked.

“Of course the main objective is to make the team for the AFF Suzuki Cup and be in the starting lineup but Mongolia is my priority for now.”

Singapore will continue preparations for the showpiece event where they have been drawn into Group B alongside Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines and Timor-Leste.

Fandi will announce his October squad list at the end of the month and has hinted that he will call up a few fresh faces to have a closer look at some players.