Young Lions keeper Syazwan returns stronger after poor SEA Games
Young Lions goalkeeper Syazwan bounces back in style after SEA Games blooper
Four months ago, Courts Young Lions goalkeeper Syazwan Buhari was thrust into the role of pantomime villain.
In goal for the national Under-23 team at the South-east Asia (SEA) Games in June, he was blamed for allowing a soft effort to creep past him for Myanmar's winning goal in a 2-1 defeat.
Singapore were eventually dumped out at the group stages of the SEA Games, in what was the Republic's first time hosting the biennial Games for 22 years.
Far from allowing the incident to break him, Syazwan has bounced back in style.
The 23-year-old has been in fine fettle for the Young Lions in the Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League in recent matches.
So much so his coach, Juergen Raab, has labelled him the "best" in the league.
"For me, he's the best at the moment," said the German, who took the reins of the Young Lions team after Aide Iskandar stepped down from the role following the SEA Games exit.
"He is not the biggest, but he has a strong mentality and personality, and he has all the qualities you need in a good goalkeeper.
"Hopefully, he can take the next step up in his football career, because he deserves it."
Syazwan has kept two clean sheets in his last six games for the Young Lions, during which the team have won twice and drawn once.
And while he has conceded nine goals along the way, that figure would have been much higher were it not for his eye-catching saves in each game.
The 1.70m-tall custodian admitted that it wasn't easy to overcome his SEA Games ordeal.
"It was tough," said Syazwan. "As much as possible, I try not to think too much about mistakes I made in the past.
"It helps that the team, my coaches like coach (Lee) Bee Seng, Budgie (John Burridge) and coach Juergen - everyone - have been there for me.
"As for my recent form, it's down to hard work, not just recently but also before the SEA Games, and I guess it's paying off now."
The Young Lions are hoping that Syazwan will be on top of his game again in their next match against Harimau Muda at the Jalan Besar Stadium next Tuesday.
While there is national pride on the line, the game is also a chance for them to catch up with their Causeway rivals in the table, with just four matches to play this season.
Raab's charges are eighth in the 10-team S.League, three points behind Harimau Muda, who have played a game less.
Said the former East German international midfielder: "I know about the rivalry between Singapore and Malaysia.
"Harimau Muda have taken four points from their last two matches, so we know it will be tough for us.
"But we beat them on their own pitch in Malacca (3-2 on Aug 3), so to beat them over here is a normal target.
"We want to catch up with them on points, and our goal right now is to overtake them on the table."
Added Syazwan: "Whenever Singapore and Malaysia play each other, it's a game both teams "die die" want to win, be it a friendly, in a league or in a tournament.
"So, next Tuesday, we will definitely go all out for the three points, and also because we want to finish the season above them in the table."