Fandi joins Johor FA as advisor

Local football legend Fandi Ahmad has signed a three-year deal with Malaysian Premier League (MPL) side Johor FA to be their technical adviser.

It is believed that Tengku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, the Crown Prince of Johor and the president of Johor FA, had a huge hand in persuading Fandi to make the move across the Causeway.

In a telephone interview with The New Paper, the 49-year-old Fandi confirmed the news, saying: "I have been with Johor FA since last week, but officially my first day of work is Feb 2.

"Although I will be the technical adviser, I will also help out in training sessions and I will be with the team rather frequently."

According to Fandi, his job scope involves rebuilding the first team and helping them secure promotion to the Malaysian Super League at the end of next season.

He said: "As you know, the season has already started, and we had three 1-1 draws in five games.

"We will try our best but I feel there is not enough quality in the team to finish in the top two and gain promotion this season.

"So our immediate priority is to rebuild, and I hope to secure for Johor FA two foreigners before the Feb 13 deadline."

It is believed that Fandi has lined up a Brazilian and a Colombian to link up with the Scorpions.

Fandi effect

However, the Fandi effect seems to have already taken place.

After just one training session, Johor FA defeated promotion-favourites Sime Darby 2-1 last Friday. The unbeaten Scorpions are currently fifth in the 12-team MPL with two wins and three draws, two points behind leaders PDRM.

According to sources, Tengku Ismail, who is also the Royal Patron of Johor FA, was not pleased with the club's poor start to the season that saw them held to draws by lowly-placed teams such as Harimau Muda B and Betaria.

He then sought the blessings of his father, Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar, to take over as president of the club, before revealing his intentions to bring in Fandi as the technical adviser to help out with the strikers.

Johor FA's gain is Singapore's loss.

Fandi revealed to TNP he had been keen to lead Singapore's Under-21 team to the AFC Under-22 qualifiers in Brunei this June, with a view to take the Young Lions to next year's South-east Asia Games in Myanmar.

It is believed he has already had informal discussions with Zainudin Nordin, president of the Football Association of Singapore (FAS), Prof Ho Peng Kee, FAS adviser and Raddy Avramovic, the national football coach.

Fandi said: "I've made my intentions known earlier on to the FAS, but Johor FA came in with a concrete offer and I feel I just can't wait any more."

It is understood that the FAS was also keen on enlisting Fandi's help before lining up their list of coaches for the year, only to find the former Young Lions coach already committed to the Sembawang Soccer Academy.

An FAS spokesman said: "Earlier, FAS was keen to have Fandi in its coaching structure.

Unfortunately, he had other commitments then.

"Since then, the coaching structure for the year has been finalised.

Keen

"However, we are definitely keen to work with a national icon like Fandi who also has strong coaching credentials.

"Youth development is definitely high up our priority list and we will continue to explore ways how we can work together."

Nevertheless, Singapore's favourite footballing son said he will still contribute to the local football scene as he continues to train ITE players for the H-Two-O Dream Team, who recently held the Courts Young Lions to a creditable 2-2 draw before losing on penalties.

"My first year with Johor FA will be something like a part-time basis," said Fandi.

"I will go up for around 15 sessions each month and I will still be very much involved with the ITE boys."

In Fandi's first head coach assignment, he led SAFFC to the S-League title in 2000 and 2002.

As Avramovic's assistant, Fandi was instrumental in helping the national team lift the Tiger Cup in 2005, before he took on a more lucrative offer with Indonesian club Pelita Jaya.

There, his accomplishments include masterminding their promotion from the Second Division, largely banking on a youth policy, before leaving the club in March 2010.


This article was first published in The New Paper.