Singapore goalkeeper Izwan takes pay cut to play in Thailand
National goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud has taken a pay cut of about 25 per cent to secure a move to Thai League 2 (T2) side Nongbua Pitchaya.
He signed a one-season deal yesterday and is understood to have received an undisclosed sign-on fee for leaving Tampines Rovers.
The 27-year-old Izwan, who recently underwent corrective hand surgery, will begin training on Jan 1.
He said: "My move is not motivated by money. I am determined to push myself and this is a great opportunity.
"I know I have to make some sacrifices but I hope this new challenge will reap benefits in the future."
With Singapore No. 1 Hassan Sunny re-joining Army United, this means the Lions' top two custodians will both ply their trade in Thailand next year. Defender Abdil Qaiyyim is undergoing a trial with T2's Khonkaen.
Three other national footballers will play in Malaysia - Johor Darul Takzim's Hariss Harun, Pahang's Safuwan Baharudin and Negeri Sembilan's Madhu Mohana.
Izwan, who has 42 international caps, added: "Nongbua have been competitive in the last couple of years and I hope I can make a big difference to the club. I would like to challenge myself and get out of my comfort zone."
Izwan shot to prominence in 2011 when then-national coach Raddy Avramovic picked him for the World Cup qualifiers against Malaysia for just his second and third caps.
Following the 2013 Malaysian Super League and 2015 Malaysian FA Cup triumphs with the LionsXII, he gained global fame when he made 18 saves to help Singapore to a 0-0 World Cup qualifying draw against Japan in 2015.
Founded in 2010, Nongbua won promotion from the third tier last year and finished eighth out of 18 teams in their debut T2 season this year, one spot ahead of Hassan's more-established Army United.
Said Izwan: "Hassan's successful stint proves that Singaporean goalkeepers have the ability to match the best in South-east Asia and I am confident I can do just as well in an overseas league." - DAVID LEE