Singapore's Izwan Mahbud is relishing the chance to rub shoulders with some of the world's elite goalkeepers at this week’s Barclays Asia Trophy as he continues his shot-stopping development.
Izwan’s star has been on the rise in recent months, particularly since his exceptional display in Singapore’s 0-0 draw with Japan in a World Cup qualifier last month.
It has resulted in the LionsXII custodian (pictured above, centre) being linked with several moves abroad, including Korea and a potential trial with Japanese club Matsumoto Yamaga.
Izwan was part of the Singapore Select XI that suffered a 4-0 defeat to Arsenal on Wednesday night, which included two penalties. Despite the lopsided scoreline, Izwan still pulled off a number of fine saves.
The 25-year-old is aiming to use the tournament to learn as much as he can from the Premier League talent in Singapore.
“I was hoping Petr Cech played,” he said sheepishly in an interview with FourFourTwo. “I would like to meet Petr Cech and Tim Howard, all these goalkeepers. I can learn from them and maybe talk to them, the world stars.
“I changed (jerseys) with Szczesny (after the game). He said good game I think, he encouraged me, so it’s good that a world class goalkeeper talked to me (about my game).”
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger chose to keep Cech on the bench, starting Emiliano Martinez, who was later replaced by Szczesny.
Izwan’s next match-up will be against Stoke City on Saturday in the third-place playoff, when Shay Given, Jack Butland and Jakob Haugaard will vie for playing time in goal.
The Singapore selection produced a strong first-half display against the Gunners, holding them to a slim 1-0 lead in the first hour before conceding two penalties and a close-range header late on.
Singapore central defender Baihakki Khaizan, who had to be substituted after receiving a knock late in the game, was positive about his team's performance.
“It’s Arsenal, so we just did our best,” he said. “It was a good game ... holding them to a 1-0 scoreline and then there were two penalties coming in, okay a little bit soft, but whatever.
“We enjoyed the game and I thought we played some good football for the first half.”
The 31-year-old defender said the tournament was a "once in a lifetime" experience for Singaporean footballers.
"It’s good they came over here and chose this spot to host the Barclays Asia Trophy and good for our players also. We get a feel of what English Premier League football is like," he said.
"After three days, we play another Premier League team, so we get a taste of it, it’s once in a lifetime, and the boys should enjoy it."
Photo credit: Weixiang Lim/FourFourTwocomments