SINGAPORE — He was at the centre of a national service defaulter controversy in Singapore upon being signed up by English football club Fulham in 2018.
On Monday (9 May), Thailand midfielder Ben Davis set his side on the path to victory at the SEA Games football competition, scoring the opening penalty goal against Singapore in their emphatic 5-0 win at the Thien Truong Stadium in Vietnam.
The 21-year-old, who switched his nationality from Singapore to Thailand after defaulting on his NS obligations when the Ministry of Defence denied his deferment application, was tripped in the penalty area on the stroke of half-time, with the score tied at 0-0.
He got up and slotted in the resultant spot kick, sending Singapore goalkeeper Zaiful Nizam the wrong way for his first-ever goal for the Thai national team.
The goal proved to be the boost for Thailand to step up after a tentative first half, and they swept past the shattered Young Lions in the second half.
Following an unfortunate own-goal by Singapore's Harhys Stewart just three minutes after the restart, the Thais piled on the misery with goals from Ekanit Panya (51st and 66th minutes) and Korawich Tasa (81st), consigning Singapore to their heaviest SEA Game football defeat since losing 1-8 to Myanmar way back in 1971.
With the victory, Thailand rebounded from their opening 1-2 group-stage defeat by Malaysia, in which they were stunned by a last-gasp stoppage-time winner from their rivals
Singapore, however, will have to win their remaining two Group B matches - against Cambodia and Malaysia - to stand any chance of advancing into the semi-finals as one of the top two sides in the group. They had drawn 2-2 with Laos in their opening match last Saturday.