Irfan and Ikhsan Fandi relishing Under-23 link-up

The duo, who are the two eldest sons of Singapore legend Fandi Ahmad, will be heading to Austria for a training tour, and will be the youngest members of the squad
They are the two youngest members in the side, but Irfan and Ikhsan Fandi certainly did not look out of place when they joined their team-mates at Changi Airport on Monday evening.

The duo were called up to a 20-man Singapore Under-23 squad last Tuesday, with the team joining the senior Lions side on a training tour of Austria that will run for 16 days until July 23.

It is a big step up for 17-year-old Irfan and younger brother Ikhsan, 15, but the eldest duo of Singapore legend Fandi Ahmad's children appeared largely unfazed as they spoke to reporters with an assured demeanour.

"I feel lucky because I am only 15," Ikhsan said. "By training with the U23s, I can get stronger."

Perhaps their self-assuredness stems from the experience of their past 10 months in Chile, where they have been attached to the football academy of second-division side AC Banerchea. According to the pair, the standard of football is high and the competitiveness has made them better players.

"Training has been really intense and I think now we are both playing faster and we think faster in the game," explained Irfan, who believes he is more responsible as a person now as well.

"There, we can improve our skills and then come back to Singapore to teach our teammates and maybe inspire them to train harder," his brother added.

Both have settled well into their new surroundings, with Spanish being "quite easy" to pick up while they have also cope with juggling both studies and football.

"The timing is just right," Ikhsan explained. "When we finish school, we go training and then we go back to rest - the day repeats itself."

They are relishing the trip to Salzburg as another new experience for them to take on board and help them to improve further, with 1.85metre-tall Irfan expected to be involved in the three U23 friendlies.

"It's a good experience for me to be in the team as I can mix around with the older players and I can learn from them," Irfan said.

While Ikhsan is not likely to get playing time, the young forward is still looking forward to being part of a national team set-up at a higher level.

"I am training with older players and that’s really a good thing, so we can compare ourselves [to them and provide] more competition," he said.

The Young Lions will play FC Pribram of Czech Republic and the Borussia Dortmund U23 team during their stay in Austria. A third opponent for July 20 will be confirmed on a later date.