SINGAPORE - With Izwan Mahbud firmly established as Singapore's top custodian at senior and Under-23 level, the race is on to secure the other goalkeeper slot in the 20-man South-east Asia (SEA) Games squad.
Izwan is on duty for the senior team's international friendly against China on Friday and his LionsXII deputy Khairulhin Khalid is out with an ankle injury.
That leaves Courts Young Lions goalkeeper Syazwan Buhari (left) to start in Saturday's Merdeka Tournament opener against Malaysia Under-23.
The 21-year-old full-time National Serviceman knows he has 90 minutes to stake his claim.
Syazwan, a combat medic, told The New Paper: "It's make-or-break for me against Malaysia because I'll have to return to Singapore and report for duty after that.
"There are three good goalkeepers fighting for the remaining goalkeeper spot in the SEA Games team, so I have to remain focused and play well."
Syazwan missed the first few months of the S-League due to his medic course, but returned with left back Afiq Yunos to play 10 league games for the Courts Young Lions. The duo have helped to stabilise the team's defence.
Syazwan will face familiar faces on Saturday, having played against Harimau Muda in the S-League last season.
While the mercurial Nazmi Faiz netted twice and Ahmad Hazwan Bakri scored once in a 3-1 win in March last year, Syazwan starred in the return game four months later.
The Singaporean side won that match 1-0, and Syazwan kept out the likes of Ahmad Hazwan and D Saarvindran, whom he is likely to face again on Saturday.
Singapore Under-23 coach V Sundramoorthy said: "Syazwan is a good goalkeeper but he will need more international games to get better. Even though he lacks height (1.73m), he is a good shot-stopper, is comfortable with the ball at his feet and reads the game well.
"We also have two other promising goalkeepers in Khai and Neezam (Abdul Aziz), and it's up to them to prove they are the best choice to go to the SEA Games along with Izwan."
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