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These guys are still a bit special

The New Paper | Wednesday, Oct 1, 2014

SINGAPORE - They are two of Singapore's greatest footballers, and the country was lucky enough to have Fandi Ahmad and V Sundramoorthy starring on football fields around the world in the 1980s and 90s. For two unique footballers to play at the same time is rare, and Fandi (right) and Sundram (left) did their bit to raise the Kallang Roar in their heyday.

They came together for the first time in a long time on Saturday night at the Shah Alam Stadium and dazzled again as the Singapore Veterans drew 1-1 with the Malaysian Veterans.

In this special feature, The New Paper's David Lee talks to the two men - Fandi's 52 and Sundram's 48 - about their partnership and thoughts on Singapore football.

 

What have been your standout memories of Singapore's showdowns against Selangor?

Sundram: The goals I scored against the late R Arumugam in the M-League in the 80s were always memorable because he was arguably the greatest goalkeeper from Selangor, and Malaysia.

Fandi: Contributing one assist and scoring the winning goal in the 1980 Malaysia Cup final against Selangor as a youngster was something special.

The 1994 semi-final against Selangor was also memorable because I scored the only goal in the first leg, but we needed goals from V Selvaraj and Abbas Saad to help us come from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 in the second leg and qualify for the final.

The peak of your telepathic understanding could have been in 1989, and it could have ended in ultimate glory had it not been for a 3-1 defeat by Malaysia in the South-east Asia (SEA) Games final. Do you still revisit that match and think you guys should have won it?

Sundram: Oh yes, because despite the scoreline, the final was very close and could have gone either way. Fandi and I combined well and I flicked on Terry Pathmanathan's long throw for him to score the equaliser.

We really came close to delivering Singapore's first SEA Games football gold. It was disappointing but reaching the final, and it remains the last time we got that far, was a high moment.

Fandi: We could have and should have won that final even though it was played in heavy rain.

Sundram and I had a telepathic understanding. We didn't have to shout at each other to communicate. Just reading each other's eye contact and movement, and we'd know how the other wants the ball to be played. But in the end, it was not to be.

We had no luck.

It's been more than a decade since you hung up your boots, but you guys continue to fascinate and excite. For heaven's sake, you are already past 50! What makes Fandi and Sundram such fan favourites?

Sundram: The fans still remember our contribution and the entertainment we provided. Every time we step out on to the pitch, we are always looking to do something special.

Fandi: Sundram is right. We are footballers and performers. We have the ability so we want to use that ability to make sure that fans go back happy, with something to talk about.

We'll try to score the spectacular goals, do something different or something special and leave our mark in every game.

Do you think a Singapore footballer can ever overtake you guys in terms of success and popularity? How and when do you think that may happen?

Sundram: It really is difficult to say. A footballer's performance on the pitch will give him recognition and, if he is able to provide entertainment as well, then fans will take him to heart.

But it takes time to become a household name and I really hope that the day will come soon when someone overtakes Fandi and I.

It would show that Singapore football has progressed and there are new football stars to talk about.

Fandi: Consistency is key, and we are not just talking about one or two years, much less one good game or one beautiful goal and then go quiet for the rest of the season.

Players like Faris Ramli and Sahil Suhaimi have the ability, and with that a chance of overtaking us. But they must be disciplined and self-motivated. When they get the ball, they must want to do something special with it, which was the attitude Sundram and I had back then.

Like Sundram, I also hope for the day Singapore can celebrate another top striker who can set pulses racing.


This article was first published on September 29, 2014.
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