Football: Fulham trainee Ben, 16, impresses Singapore Under-18 coach

Ben Davis is the latest recruit for the national Under-18 side.
Ben Davis is the latest recruit for the national Under-18 side.PHOTO: FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION OF SINGAPORE

His body language appears relaxed, languid even. But give him a football and Ben Davis will spring into life. Those hoping to dispossess him or take him out with a tactical foul will be disappointed.

The latest recruit for Singapore's national Under-18 side showed that he has widened his repertoire since joining Fulham's U-18s in July by scoring twice and contributing an assist in a 4-0 friendly win over Temasek Polytechnic last night.

Still only 16, Ben is deemed good enough to be selected for the U-18s.

He returned to Singapore last week to train with the age-group side, but his paperwork to represent the Republic in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-19 Championship qualifiers starting this Sunday arrived only two days ago. And he was thrown straight into action at Jalan Besar Stadium last night.

In an 81-minute appearance, he was especially effective in the first half, scoring the first with a tap-in in the 21st minute, curling a long-range shot into the top corner 10 minutes later before playing a through ball for midfielder Mahler Jacob William to grab the third in the 43rd minute.

Midfielder Nur Muhammad Shah netted from a penalty in stoppage time to complete the scoring.

National U-18 coach Christophe Chaintreuil was pleased with Ben's display, saying: "The last time I saw him (Ben) play was a long time ago, when I watched videos of him playing in U-15 matches.

"This game confirmed that he is a good player. He has good potential.

"Technically, he is very good and he reads the game well.

"He can score and give assists. But he needs to play more at a high level to improve even more."

The Singapore U-18s are drawn with Japan, Thailand and group hosts Mongolia in Group I of the AFC U-19 qualifiers.

The 10 group winners and best five runners-up will qualify for next year's Finals in Indonesia.

Ben was born in Thailand but moved to Singapore at the age of five and gained citizenship here in 2009. He studied at the Singapore Sports School from 2013 to 2015 before moving to London's Harrow High School last year.

He earned a two-year academy scholarship with English Championship side Fulham in July after impressing in trials.

"It feels good to play for Singapore, it is exposure at the international level," said the 1.72m teenager. "The intensity in England is higher and it's more physical.

"Training and matches are really tiring over there but the hard work pays off. Awareness is the key over there.

"Over here, players don't check their shoulders (when receiving the ball). The (Fulham) coaches emphasised it and within two months, it became natural to me.

"I feel there's been a massive improvement to my game and I hope to get even better."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 01, 2017, with the headline 'Fulham trainee Ben, 16, impresses national U-18 coach'. Print Edition | Subscribe