Lions Abroad: Nongbua Pitchaya's Izwan Mahbud

In this series termed 'Lions Abroad', we take a look at some of Singapore's footballing stars who ply their trade overseas

Hassan Sunny or Izwan Mahbud? That is the goalkeeping dilemma faced by most of Singapore’s recent national coaches given that both are highly-rated by fans and pundit alike.

Moreover both are also plying their trade in Thailand and will be vying to be Singapore’s number one when the AFF Championships roll into town.

But let’s leave Hassan aside because this article is about Izwan. Izwan rose to prominence when in 2011 he started in goal for Singapore as they defeated traditional rivals Malaysia over a two-leg World Cup qualifier.

Though it would be his performance against Japan below that would garner him unbridled attention.

His performance against the Blue Samurai would earn him a trial with newly promoted J-League side Matsumoto Yamaga F.C., but in the end he missed out on being the first Singaporean to play in the top-tier of Japanese football.

Nevertheless, the 28-year-old would still go on to achieve silverware in the form of the 2013 Malaysian Super League and 2015 Malaysian FA Cup titles with the LionsXII.

Following Singapore’s exit from the Malaysian league, in 2016 Izwan would join Tampines Rovers for one season. In 2018 he took a pay cut and put pen to paper by signing for Thai League 2 side Nongbua Pitchaya.

In following fellow compatriot Hassan, this only adds another interesting chapter to their healthy rivalry as Singapore coach Fandi Ahmad will have a headache as he has to pick between the two quality keepers in November’s AFF Championships.

More recently, Izwan started in goal for Nong Bua Pitchaya in the last two matches, as the club took a point from both matches.

Nong Bua Pitchaya, who were once at the top of Thai League 2, are now fifth in with 38 points and trail fourth-placed Chiang Mai FC,having scored fewer goals.