COMMENT: Give Fandi the job

Fandi Ahmad is currently the coach of Johor FA (Photo courtesy of LionsXII)Fandi Ahmad is currently the coach of Johor FA (Photo courtesy of LionsXII)

If there's ever a time for Singapore's favourite footballing son to make a comeback, this is it.

Lions coach Raddy Avramovic is set to leave next February when his contract expires while the Serb's final assignment will be next month's AFF Suzuki Cup.

While interest and support in local football has increased due to the LionsXII's standout campaign in the Malaysian Super League, national support and confidence in the senior team is still a far cry from the glory days of Fandi Ahmad, V.Sundramoorthy and Lim Tong Hai.

When Raddy -- as he is known as in the local football fraternity -- took over Jan Poulsen in 2003, he was a breath of fresh air and just what the Lions needed. He led the Lions to the pinnacle of Southeast Asian football after winning back-to-back ASEAN titles in 2004 and 2007.

More importantly, he moulded Singapore into a combative unit that was tough to beat with the Lions performing admirably against stronger opponents like China and Japan. Singapore was the only nation to have beaten Iraq in the 2007 Asian Cup qualifiers.

But it's clear that Raddy's time is up. In fact, his departure has been long overdue.

Now, we need someone who can rekindle the fans' fervour and give the nation a reason to support the national team again. And who better to do that than Fandi himself?

In terms of coaching experience and credentials, Fandi is not the most qualified candidate for the job. In fact, he's never coached an international side in his career before.

But given our recent dismal performances (knocked out in group stages of the 2010 Suzuki Cup and losing all six matches in the 2014 World Cup third-round qualifying campaign), and with our FIFA world ranking at an all-time low of 162, can things get any worse?

We have splurged on foreign coaches over the years such as Raddy but look where we are now. It's time we start showing faith in our local coaches whose passion and drive to see Singapore succeed can never be matched by a foreigner.

Having said that, the only possible barrier is Fandi himself and the Football Association of Singapore (FAS). The 50-year-old, who began his three-year deal as coach of Malaysian side Johor FA earlier this year, has made no secret of his desire to contribute to local football.

But Singapore's favourite footballing son, who won both the Malaysia Cup and league with the Lions in 1994, has often been overlooked by the FAS, hence his decision to cross the border.

With all respect to the FAS, it's time to cast aside all personal and political interests and focus on one thing: bringing the glory days back to Singapore and its fans.

And Fandi is the man to do it. By all means, pay off the remainder of his contract with Johor FA and bring him home.

He will be revered by the players. He will spark renewed interest in the team again. And he will bring the fans back to the stands.