At the media conference held by the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) today (Oct 5), Singapore set a target to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics qualification. Featuring Singapore’s soccer icon Fandi Ahmad as the new head coach, the FAS said the new youth team will compete in the under-23 section of the 2018 Asian Games, the 2019/2021 SEA Games and the 2020 Olympics.
However it is unknown if members of the new youth team has been found or it have to start from scratch. Fandi Ahmad said that he rejected many luxury offers including one from Malaysian club Pahang FA, just so he can help Singapore move forward in the soccer scene.
“I had a lot of offers, especially from the Malaysian clubs and, frankly, I was made a very good offer by Pahang. But I’ve wanted to stay in Singapore all along to help with our youth development, and my target now is to develop more players for the national team. I’m glad I’m staying put, and I believe the future is bright.”
Although FAS’s vice-president, PAP MP Edwin Tong, declined to reveal how much budget will be allocated to form the team, he was ready to push all responsibilities to Fandi Ahmad:
“Fandi will oversee, nurture, develop and identify youth talent and use that platform as a basis to then make the bedrock for the national team. He will also play an ambassadorial role to engage our various stakeholders in the football ecosystem and bring them on board our vision, because we feel that only with everyone aligned can we bring Singapore football forward.”
Although Fandi Ahmad expressed optimism on Singapore’s soccer scene, he admitted that the current performance is lacking:
“At the moment, you see the results (at age-group levels) are not that encouraging. Our target is to develop more youngsters to be part of the national youth teams to consider them for the future. A lot of players quit football at the age of around 18. This is where we need to educate them and their parents that there is a future and career in football, and that we can help the kids harness their talent to help the country. I believe there should be more opportunities for the youths to join the setup, and even if I have to do an open trial, I’ll do it, because we need to get a bigger pool of youth players.”
Fandi Ahmad also said he had set a goal of becoming Singapore’s national coach:
“Any coach would want to coach their own country. I believe that one day, maybe four to five years later, once we’ve achieved our project, that I’ll be ready. But for now I’m just focused on my new task.”