Saturday, 23 May 2015

Mum's behind you, Fandi

Semiah Ismail will be cheering son Fandi in tonight's final, just like in 1994 when he won the Malaysia Cup

In 1994, she watched on from the stands of the Shah Alam Stadium as her son scored the fourth goal in a 4-0 rout of Pahang to win the Malaysia Cup.

Tonight, 21 years on, Semiah Ismail. 72, will once again witness her son in action in a cup final.

This time, though, Fandi Ahmad won't be tearing up the pitch as a player.

He will be patrolling the touchline as coach of the LionsXII who will meet Kelantan in the Malaysian FA Cup final at the Bukit Jalil Stadium tonight.

Semiah said: "My son has gone to plenty of places for football, be it as a player or a coach, but this is one of my proudest moments.

"My heart is already racing. I remember all those years in the past, cheering him on with thousands of other Singaporeans.

"Now he's playing the part of a coach and, although it is not the Malaysia Cup, it's still a cup final after all.

"God willing, everything goes well. He's a hard worker and, as a mother, I just want to see my son happy."

This final is also an especially poignant one for Fandi and her.

On Nov 29 last year, Ahmad Wartam, Fandi's father, passed away due to heart and lung problems.

Fandi, 52, has always credited his father as his inspiration, and Semiah said: "His father always supported him. Fandi's first pair of football boots was bought by his father. That's how much influence Ahmad had on Fandi's career.

"And now he's gone one better, to be a coach. If he wins tonight, I will have no words to express my happiness."

Semiah is part of a second batch of fans who will be ferried up north by tour operator Akbar Hashim to Kuala Lumpur for tonight's match. The first group left last night.

For many of the LionsXII fans, the team's mere presence in the final is already worth a celebration.


"They are a team of young players, so never in my wildest dreams did I think we'd make it here," said Syed Faris, referring to his 200-strong group of fans who call themselves ExcluSinga.

"By the end of the match, the result won't matter to us. Our boys have already done us proud. What more can we ask for?"

While Akbar himself shares that sentiment, the veteran tour operator wants a win to make things all the more sweeter.

He said: "Everybody has to relay this simple message to Fandi, that a win is more than enough for Singapore in its jubilee year.

"I think we can nick it 2-1. Kelantan have a strong team, but I think the LionsXII have immeasurable hunger.

"Nobody displays that more than Khairul Amri.

"From all my years of watching the Malaysia Cup, I can tell you that it's a rarity to see a Singaporean striker score twice on an away ground.


"These are local boys, they're one of our own. They have their critics, but the demand for tickets has been huge.

"Why else do you think I'm bringing 30 buses up?"

As always, safety and security will be of paramount importance, especially after the violent scenes played out after last Saturday's away leg of the LionsXII's semi-final against Terengganu.

Terengganu won 3-2 on the night, but lost out on away goals as the tie ended 4-4 on aggregate.

The fans went berserk at the officials, hurled plastic chairs onto the pitch, broke glass doors in the stadium and even went as far as to torch an ambulance.

These are scenes which Akbar hopes he won't see tonight.

He said: "At the end of the day, we have to be mindful of our own actions as well."

"God willing, everything goes well. He’s a hard worker and, as a mother, I just want to see my son happy."

- Semiah Ismail, Fandi Ahmad’s mother

Things to note for travelling fans

Arrangements have been made by the local authorities in Kuala Lumpur to ensure that Singapore fans heading to the Bukit Jalil Stadium for tonight's Malaysian FA Cup final will have a safe experience.

Tour buses are to enter the stadium via the Kompleks Sukan Negara, Perbadanan Stadium Malaysia entrance.

They are to park at Car Parks D and E, from which police officers will escort the LionsXII fans into the stadium. Buses that are parked will not be allowed to leave the venue during the match.

Likewise, fans are not allowed to leave the stadium after entry, until after the game.

The police has also advised the LionsXII fans to enter the stadium using the blue turnstiles.

A section of the stadium will be reserved for LionsXII fans.


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