Japan and Thailand unlikely for Izwan
Goalkeeper's J.League dream looks slim as Yamaga sign Japanese-American custodian
Tis the season to be jolly? Not if you're national goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud.
The 25-year-old's hopes of signing for J.League club Matsumoto Yamaga dimmed yesterday, after the side signed Japanese-American goalkeeper Daniel Schmidt on loan for the coming season.
Reports in Japan said that Yamaga, who were relegated from Japan's top flight after last season, secured the signing of the 23-year-old Illinois-born Schmidt from Vegalta Sendai.
Schmidt, who is 1.96 metres tall, played 26 games on loan at Roasso Kumamoto last season in the second-tier J2 League.
With Yamaga No. 1 Tomohiko Murayama, and his deputies Yuto Shirai and Niall Killoran all still at the club, it seems Izwan's dream of becoming the first Singaporean to play professionally in Japan is now slim at best.
Understandably disappointed at hearing the news, Izwan told The New Paper yesterday: "I'm still grateful for the opportunity to train with a J.League team.
"Obviously, I would have loved to get a chance to play there, and I still dream of playing overseas in the future.
"But, if there is no offer, I hope I will be able to sort out my future as soon as possible.
"I'll just focus on doing my best, and see how far I can go."
Izwan has been anxiously waiting for good news since he returned from a week-long trial at Yamaga on Dec 8.
He received mixed signals during his spell at the club.
Club vice-chairman Yoshiyuki Kato praised his judgment and shot-stopping, but goalkeeper coach Honma Yasutaka singled out the Singaporean's footwork and positioning as areas to work on.
Izwan had reportedly been courted by Thai club Chonburi over the last month, although it appears the Sharks have also cooled their interest, with new head coach Therdsak Chaiman telling TNP he was not aware of any moves to sign the Singaporean.
This puts him in a bit of a pickle, as most of the six local S.League clubs already have established goalkeepers in their ranks.
Balestier Khalsa have retained national goalkeeper Zaiful Nizam, while Home are likely to hand Hyrulnizam Juma'at the No. 1 jersey next season.
Warriors FC have swooped for veteran Yazid Yasin from Geylang International, who have replaced him with SEA Games shot-stopper Syazwan Buhari.
Bottom club Hougang, who are unlikely to be interested in taking on Izwan's wages, have retained goalkeepers Ridhuan Barudin and Basil Chan.
Last season's S.League runners-up Tampines Rovers and the Football Association of Singapore developmental side Courts Young Lions are two possible destinations for Izwan.
Tampines have released Brazilian Rodrigo Pacheco, who kept goal for them last season.
Izwan could also turn out for the Young Lions, an Under-21 team next season, as an overaged player, alongside former LionsXII teammate and Lions star striker Khairul Amri.
- Additional reporting by David Lee