By Natasha Raheel – Express Tribune
KARACHI: Picked up by US Soccer League’s Sacramento Republic for a four-month contract in June, Pakistan national striker Kaleemullah, who has so far failed to find the back of the net, remains upbeat after completing the first two months with the US’s third-tier division club.
The 22-year-old has been part of the 33-member squad of Sacramento and even with seven strikers in the roster, has made a name for himself and proved his credentials to be considered in the top-18 of every match.
The striker, who is yet to score for Sacramento, believes that the number of goals do not define a player’s worth as football is more about team play rather than individual goals.
“I know everyone related to me wants to see me score. I want it too, but it’s more about the team than me,” Kaleemullah told The Express Tribune. “We have a very competitive side and I’m learning the American style-of-play and adapting to it. Every player needs time to adjust.”
The Chaman-born striker went on to praise the trust his coach has in his abilities. “The fact that I have featured on the bench for all the matches shows the trust that coach Paul Buckle has in me,” he said. “In the last match against Colorado Springs Switchbacks, I was selected in the starting line-up and I played till the 61st minute, after which I was substituted.”
Buckle recently joined Sacramento after previous coach, Preki Radosavljevic, who signed Kaleemullah, left the club last month and the youngster believes that his relationship with the new coach is even stronger than with the previous one. “Buckle is extremely supportive and he trusts me. He doesn’t discriminate and instead tests me purely on merit. He respects the players and it doesn’t matter to him where we came from as long as we are ready to work hard,” said the former KRL striker.
Kaleemullah hopes he would get an extension on his contract once it ends and believes that he can be a valuable asset to Sacramento, who are ninth in the league, as they bid to improve on last season’s performance.
“The coaches here are monitoring my progress. I know something good will come my way when the contract ends,” concluded Kaleemullah.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 17th, 2015.