Fandi Ahmadís footballing sons are wanted ó in a big way. But perhaps, the much larger issue of whether they will want to don Singapore colours in time to come remains unclear.
The New Paper reports that after dazzling their opponents and scouts alike during an age-group tournament in England, Fandiís sons, Irfan and Ikhsan, 13 and 11 respectively, are being courted by English Premier League giants such as Arsenal and Chelsea.
The two boys, both forwards, reportedly made a huge impression while playing for Arsenal Soccer School Indonesia during the International Soccer Festival taking place in Surrey.
Fandi told TNP: ďSo far, they played only one game. The team was so-so but as individuals, the boys were outstanding. Arsenal scouts offered a trial.Ē
Fandi said Chelsea and Reading scouts were also interested.
Both boys, who were previously on trial with AC Milan and Valencia, cannot sign schoolboy forms ó the first step towards becoming a professional footballer in England ó until they turn 14.
Dale Mulholland, director of coaching for SSI Arsenal, who has been coaching the boys for four years, told the same paper: ďIkhsanís fast and swift Ė heís magical. He had the English boys in the palm of his hand.Ē
But while it seems only a matter of time before Fandiís boys sign on as football apprentices (Arsenal reportedly have first right of refusal), the larger question ó if they do turn professional Ė is which country they would choose to play for?
While Singapore would be the obvious option, the boysí mother, Wendy Jacobs, is from South Africa, making them available to play for the recent 2010 World Cup hosts when the time comes.
Speaking to The New Paper from London, Fandi, 48, said as much.
ďWell, I donít know, really,Ē he said. ďRight now, itís a bit too far to think about that.Ē
The former Lions skipper explains that National Service ó the mandatory 24-month national service period that all Singaporean males must serve ó is a major issue.
ďNS is a problem, although I donít want to say too much because it is a sensitive issue. When I was 16, Ajax offered to sign me but I had to tell them to wait two years (for me to complete my NS).Ē
Former Singapore star R. Sasikumar, the boysí manager, elaborated: ďYou wonít be at the top of your game during that two years of your life in NS. At that age in football, you have to be in Europe.Ē
The other obvious question is Ė would the boys even want to play for Singapore? Realistically speaking, the national careers of both players would better be fulfilled if they were to represent South Africa, who despite failing to reach the second round of the recent World Cup, made a decent impression on the world stage.
To complicate matters, the Jakarta-based Fandi is also in talks with his former Dutch side, FC Groningen, about a coaching position.
As such, should Fandi be offered the job, itís possible that Irfan and Ikhsan will join the youth academy that groomed the talents of superstars like Arjen Robben and Ronald Koeman.
Perhaps the only consolation is that Fandi ó Singaporeís favourite footballing son ó and his sons have plenty of time before making their big decision on whether they should play for the Lions.
But would you forgive him and his sons if they didnít?
So what you guys think where should they ply their trade?