Balestier Khalsa’s tricky winger Daniel Goh catches Fandi Ahmad’s eye
Balestier's Daniel Goh shines during Merlion Cup, but needs to work on physique
Just a year ago, Daniel Goh was a bit-part player with Hougang United, making just two appearances in the Singapore Premier League (SPL).
But his football career has hit an upward trajectory since.
Last week, the 19-year-old winger represented the Singapore Under-22s for the first time, ending with a gleaming gold medal around his neck following their Merlion Cup campaign.
He started in both games at the Jalan Besar Stadium, contributing an assist in the 3-0 win over the Philippines and also played 32 minutes in the final against Thailand.
His rise has come about following a switch to Balestier Khalsa, where the Institute of Technical Education student has started all 11 SPL games this season, while contributing two assists and making the Tigers' right flank his personal domain.
Singapore U-22 coach Fandi Ahmad picked Goh for the Merlion Cup and described him as a player who is "good and tricky on the ball".
"We look for players who perform in the SPL. It's good to see him in international matches, but he has a lot to work on for his physicality," said Fandi, 57.
"He has to play differently with opponents because he has a smaller build and he's even underweight, actually."
However, Fandi commented that Goh, who is 1.69m and weighs 55kg, makes up for it in technique and speed.
"The international level is much harder in terms of the physical aspect, so he needs to be able to take knocks," he said.
Although Goh was a former national youth player, he revealed that he was a bundle of nerves before the Merlion Cup.
"I felt a bit pressured because I was not part of their AFC U-23 Championship (qualifying squad) and I haven't gelled with them yet," he said before a club training session on Wednesday.
"I was also nervous because it was my first time playing on homeground. There were quite a number of fans and I felt it most when I was in the tunnel."
When asked how he overcame the nerves, he thanked two of his clubmates, Huzaifah Aziz and Fadli Kamis.
The duo, who were recently called up to the senior national team, had given Goh advice on how to calm his nerves.
"Huzaifah told me to treat it like a usual league game to relax my mind," he said, adding that his nerves faded off with each successful tackle or dribble.
Balestier Khalsa coach Khidhir Khamis said he was proud to see Goh "terrorise" opponents during the Merlion Cup.
Khidhir, 33, also praised him for his character, as Goh has not missed a single training session despite having to juggle football with his Higher Nitec course in process plant design engineering.
He hopes that Goh will continue his momentum into the SPL, where they will face Geylang International at Our Tampines Hub on Sunday.
"He should be back in the club now with more confidence to contribute to our target of winning this Sunday.
"He's been dying to score... and has been getting into good positions too, but has to maintain his composure before the final shot."
Having tasted success with the Singapore U-22s, Goh aspires to make the cut for the Nov 30-Dec 11 SEA Games in the Philippines.
Then, there's also that "every boy's dream" to play in the senior Lions team, an ambition that he has had since picking up the sport at eight years old.
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