Izwan may get trial at Yamaga

Izwan may get trial at Yamaga
Singapore's goalkeeper Mohamad Izwan Bin Mahbud (L) catches the ball against Japan's defender Tomoaki Makino (R) during the 2018 FIFA World Cup football qualifying match between Japan and Singapore in Saitama on June 16, 2015.

MATSUMOTO (Nagano) - One week after his heroics in Singapore's 0-0 draw against Japan, it is clear Izwan Mahbud has left an indelible impression there with his performance in goal.

And it seems the 24-year-old, who repelled all 18 attempts the Samurai Blue threw at him, could be back in Japan soon - this time, on trial at a J-League club.

Newly-promoted Matsumoto Yamaga, who are 14th in the 18-team J-League after 16 games, said yesterday that they are keen to see the shot-stopper up close.

Yamaga's vice-president Yoshiyuki Kato said: "It's hard to judge from one game but he had a dominating performance. He made fantastic saves and had an excellent performance.

"The way he threw himself about and kept his concentration throughout was very impressive.

"He certainly has enough ability to play in the J-League and we would like to see him in practice."

Kato was speaking at a press conference to unveil the three Singapore Under-14 players who will join Yamaga for a training stint, which began yesterday and ends on Sunday.

The club have two foreign players on their books. Each club can have up to five foreigners and can field four at a time.

A flattered Izwan said: "I know that the Football Association of Singapore is in discussions with foreign leagues, including the J-League, to arrange playing stints for my team-mates and me in various top leagues... and I'm really looking forward to seeing where my full potential lies."

The FAS said: "We are happy to hear of Matsumoto Yamaga's expressed interest in offering a trial to Izwan Mahbud. We have yet to hear officially from Yamaga about this but we do look forward to having discussions with them, and our stakeholders such as Epson, on arranging such an opportunity for Izwan."

What is clear though is that the goalkeeper - who plays for the LionsXII - has left many enamoured with the masterclass he put on in front of 57,000 fans at the Saitama Stadium.

Albirex Niigata goalkeeper Yosuke Nozawa, who has over 200 appearances in Japanese league football, said: "His performance... surprised not only Japan but also Asia.

"He showed really wonderful performance for this game. But what goalkeepers need is not a single super save but consistent performances."

Freelance football journalist Tasuku Taki agreed: "He was certainly very impressive. If he can perform like that on a regular basis, of course, he can play in the J-League."

English teacher Yuka Murano, who was in Saitama Stadium that evening, said: "He should try (to join the J-League). One good game doesn't mean he is ready to step up into a better league but it does show he has potential."

While many are impressed with his goalkeeping skills, one stumbling block could be language.

Waturo Endo, who works in the J-League's international relations department, said: "One problem is that many Japanese players don't speak English.

"As a goalkeeper, communication is very important and that could be a problem."

South Korea's Lee Ho Seung is the only non-local goalkeeper in Japan's top flight, playing for Shonan Bellmare.

The J-League's mid-season transfer window opens on July 10 and closes on Aug 7. Another opening could be at the annual trials in December.

Last year, seven foreigners took part alongside some 100 Japanese players.


This article was first published on June 24, 2015.
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