Football

Izwan stays grounded despite flying start

Unbeaten Nongbua leading Thai League 2, but Singapore goalkeeper not getting carried away

THAI LEAGUE 2
 UDON
THANI
NONGBUA PITCHAYA

Despite a flying start with his Thai club Nongbua Pitchaya, Singapore goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud is not taking things for granted.

After five games, Nongbua are top of the 15-team Thai League 2 with four wins and a draw, although second-placed PTT Rayong have a game in hand. The top three sides gain promotion to Thai League 1 at the end of the season.

Said Izwan: "We are having a good start to the season, everyone is working hard. But I'm not thinking about promotion yet... the league is like a marathon, so we are taking it one game at a time."

Izwan has conceded only three goals in five league matches - one of the best defensive records in T2 - but the 27-year-old insists it's all a team effort.

He said: "We are working hard as a team, everyone is doing their part and fighting for one another."

Since their opening-day 1-1 draw with Army United, whose goal is kept by another Singaporean, Hassan Sunny, Nongbua have won four consecutive league matches.

IZWAN v BAIHAKKI

They travel to fifth-placed Udon Thani in a north-eastern derby tonight, with Izwan facing off against another fellow countryman Baihakki Khaizan in front of an expected capacity crowd of over 6,000.

But Izwan is treating it like just another match.

He said: "It's going be a tough away game. In any league in the world, a derby match is always a big game.

"But like the game against Army United, it's not about me against anyone, it's my team against another team, and I will always go into every game giving my best for the team."

Heading into the international break, Izwan, Hassan and Baihakki will return home for national team training next week as the Lions prepare for the friendly against Maldives on Friday and the Asian Cup qualifier against Taiwan four days later. 

So what advice would Izwan be sharing with his national teammates who might be keen to ply their trade in Thailand?

He said: "Come here with an open mind, there will be times when everything seems to go downhill, but pick yourself up and look at all the positives.

"And also you have to remember, you are playing in the Thai league as a foreign import, so every training, every game, you have to give your 100 per cent commitment and hard work."

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