Football: Izwan itching to test himself against Arsenal and venture overseas

Singapore Selection goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud speaks to journalists at a press conference ahead of the Barclays Asia Trophy soccer tournament in Singapore.
Singapore Selection goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud speaks to journalists at a press conference ahead of the Barclays Asia Trophy soccer tournament in Singapore.PHOTO: EPA

SINGAPORE - With quality dripping everywhere in the Arsenal line-up, Singapore Select Izwan Mahbud has the uneviable task of silencing the Gunners in their Barclays Asia Trophy match on Wednesday but the goalkeeper is eager to prove himself.

"This is a really big game for me," the LionsXII custodian said on Tuesday afternoon.

"This is a game that I will cherish."

Last month, Izwan found himself in the limelight after a Man of the Match performance in Singapore's 0-0 draw against Asian powerhouse Japan at Saitama Stadium in the World Cup qualifiers. Then, he pulled off an astonishing 18 saves to deny the likes of Shinji Kagawa, Keisuke Honda and Shinji Okazaki.

That led to talk of the custodian, who turned 25 on Tuesday, to join a J-League club.

Singapore Select coach V. Sundramoorthy lavished praise on the goalkeeper, saying: "Izwan is a very talented goalkeeper. Over the past few years, I watched him grow from a boy into a man.

"He is ready to move up a level, to the J-League or K-League. That will really help Singapore football."

But Izwan is under no illusions about facing the team that finished third in the English Premier League last season.

"It is obvious they (Arsenal) have lots of attacking players," he said.

"There will be more shots. I don't know (if he could pull off 18 saves). Every game, I need to perform. That (the match against Japan) is in the past.

"How far I can go depend on how hard I work. I have no target (foreign club to sign for). If there is any move abroad, I will consider it."

meng@sph.com.sg