FourFourTwo Picks: The Goalkeepers
But here's the twist. Instead of posting our predicted lineups all at one go, Jeremy Lim and Dominic Neo will reveal one member of the team each day, starting from today as we count down the number of sleeps till the big match.
Without further ado, we present FourFourTwo Picks: The Goalkeepers.
No danger too big for Buffon
Team: Juventus FC
“Is it a bird? Is it a plane?” No, it’s Gianluigi Buffon in the Juventus goal.
We've lost count of the number of times the custodian has left onlookers dumbfounded with his acrobatics. Gravity-defying leaps to prevent shots sailing into the top corner of his net spring to mind all too easily. Such feats seem humanly impossible, considering the laws of physics. But those laws don’t seem to apply to the Juventus captain. To his followers, Buffon isn’t your mild-mannered, ordinary, everyday goalkeeper. To them, he is no less than Superman.
There is never a dull moment when the 36-year-old is on the pitch. Nowadays, he may no longer wear a Superman shirt beneath his jersey: “I have a beard and a couple of kids. The time for those kind of things has gone.” But despite Buffon’s advancing age, opponents have not managed to figure out his Kryptonite yet. Instead, the keeper’s aura of invincibility only seems to increase with each passing match.
Since being made the most expensive shot-stopper in history when the Bianconeri paid out €45 million to Parma for his services in 2001, Buffon has performed his duties with dependable reliability. His presence alone is uplifting, even for the world-class defenders who have been arrayed in front of him during the 13 years he has been in Turin. They know that no matter what danger arises, Superman will be there to save the day.
No leap too far for Izwan
Team: Singapore Selection
“Super save, Izwan Mahbud”, is a refrain that Malaysia Super League fans will be familiar with. This athletic shot-stopper has been a permanent fixture for club and country since making his professional debut for the Young Lions in 2008. The 24 year-old goalie is vastly experienced in spite of his young age – he has been a mainstay in the LionsXII first team, appearing 38 times in the last three seasons. He has also won an impressive 24 caps for Singapore.
Although Izwan is not the most physically imposing goalkeeper, he more than makes up for it with his lightning reflexes and accurate distribution. He was once even called upon to take offensive free kicks in the opponents’ half for his club side.
Coaches and managers have lavished praise on the 1.79m tall shot stopper. Former LionsXII coach V. Sundramoorthy lauded him as “one of South-east Asia’s safest hands” whilst former national custodian, Lee Bee Seng, claimed that “Izwan Mahbud can be the best goalkeeper Singapore has ever produced … he's the first local player [whom he has] come across who has everything - he doesn't fumble, deals well with crosses, commands the box and distributes the ball”.
The Singapore Selection is in safe hands. Over to you, Izwan.
FourFourTwo will be at the Singapore Sports Hub on August 16 to watch the Singapore Selection take on Juventus FC. Will either Buffon or Izwan save the day? You'll only find out if you join us there! Tickets to the match - priced from S$45 to S$180 for adults and S$30 to S$45 for children – are still available at Sports Hub Tix (www.sportshubtix.sg).