Izwan the hero again despite conceding

Izwan Mahbud saving a shot during the 0-3 loss to Japan. The Singapore goalkeeper was praised by both sides' coaches.
Izwan Mahbud saving a shot during the 0-3 loss to Japan. The Singapore goalkeeper was praised by both sides' coaches. ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

Singapore goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud gave Japan's attackers nightmares five months ago when he repelled everything the Samurai Blue threw at him.

Last night at the National Stadium, it looked like the LionsXII player would continue his streak from that 0-0 draw in June.

Indeed, he hardly put a foot wrong throughout the 90 minutes. He was confident when collecting crosses, came off his line decisively and showcased his quick reflexes once more.

He might have conceded three goals but the scoreline could have been even more embarrassing if not for his heroics.

In fact, Japan coach Vahid Halilhodzic said he personally congratulated Izwan after the match.

The Bosnian said: "The (Singapore) goalkeeper had a big game again today and I congratulated him personally.

"I don't know how many goals he stopped over these two games."

The 25-year-old was called into action early, getting down quick to keep out Keisuke Honda's shot from a Yuto Nagamoto cross after just eight minutes.

That set the tone for the rest of the match as the Lions came under heavy pressure from the visitors.

Minutes after denying Honda, Izwan pulled off another stunning series of saves - first, to keep out a Maya Yoshida header, then rising to claw out Honda's follow-up effort.

Just before the hour mark, he denied Japan goal-scorer Mu Kanazaki in a one-on-one situation.

In fact, one wonders if he could have kept the margin tight had Japan's second and third goals not involved deflections.

Singapore coach Bernd Stange also praised his player.

The German said: "We have an outstanding goalkeeper. It was another top-class performance, and I don't think he made any mistakes."

Chua Siang Yee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 13, 2015, with the headline 'Izwan the hero again despite conceding'. Print Edition | Subscribe