By Natasha Raheel – Express Tribune
KARACHI: Pakistan national team striker Kaleemullah edges tantalisingly closer to his ultimate dream of playing against an English Premier League (EPL) club as he is expected to take the field when Sacramento Republic FC host Newcastle United at Bonney Field in a friendly on July 18.
For the Chaman-based striker, getting to play against the EPL club will be the highlight of his four-month contract with Sacramento Republic FC.
“This feels like the biggest match of my club career,” Kaleemullah toldThe Express Tribune. “It’s something that I feel I’ve been working so hard for and to finally be able to play against a top club in the world is just amazing.”
Kaleemullah also said that his anticipation for the next month’s friendlies has only motivated him to put more effort in the training.
“As a Pakistani, I can’t explain how important it is for me to be even sharing the field with the top professional clubs,” said Kaleemullah. “All I’ve been doing [since the announcement of the friendly] is prepare for the match.
“I want to know how these players utilise their 90 minutes in the matches, what kind of trainings and exercises they do, how they work on their game and what kind of concentration they need. Basically, I’m going to be researching a lot on my own, and hopefully I’ll make a mark against Newcastle.”
Sacramento Republic FC will also play another friendly with Sunderland on July 14.
Both matches will take place at their home ground and Kaleemullah believes that before the build-up to big friendlies, he needs to score his first goal for the club on Thursday against Tulsa Roughnecks in an away fixture.
“I want to go in the match on Thursday with a winning mentality; I want to score more goals. It’s absolutely important that I make my impression, and hopefully I’ll get more opportunities after the four-month contract,” he added.
Meanwhile, former Pakistan captain Essa Khan, who also runs a football academy in Chaman, expressed his delight at Kaleemullah’s achievements and added that the 22-year-old’s story is gaining popularity and is motivating a lot of youngsters to pursue football as a career, especially in Chaman.
“Kaleemullah’s feat has given a lot of hope to young footballers in Pakistan and especially in Chaman and Balochistan. My advice to Kaleemullah will be to perform his best and rope in a longer contract with the clubs abroad,” said Essa.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 25th, 2015.