by Natasha Raheel
KARACHI: Pakistan’s Kaleemullah believes his second season at the United Soccer League (USL) will be more demanding even though his team, the Tulsa Roughnecks, ran out 2-0 victors against Rio Grande Valley Toros in the first match of the season.
Kaleemullah, who played his first USL season with Sacramento Republic, missed several opportunities to find his first goal in the league in two seasons. But despite a poor outing in terms of number of goals scored, the Chaman-based player remains confident of making his mark in the league.
“Tulsa Roughnecks have been very welcoming and I’m just trying to give my best,” Kaleemullah, who is the only Asian player in the team, told The Express Tribune. “The aim is to stick to the plan and be a team player. It is the only way I can survive.”
The 23-year-old, known for his speed and silky touches, has an impressive goalscoring record as he finished as the top-scorer in the 2013-14 Pakistan Premier Football League and also in Kyrgyzstan with FC Dordoi during the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
While he is disappointed to not find his goalscoring form on US soil, he feels he is better adjusted to the USL style of football now and hopes to change things around.
“I managed to score three goals and assisted two during the pre-season matches. But I’m more focused on what I can do at the moment,” said Kaleemullah.
“My performance in this season and the next match will determine my position in the future, so in many ways, I’ve learned to keep my feet on the ground. It is about performing or going home. As the only Asian player in the team, and that too from Pakistan; a country not known for football, makes it a bit more challenging. ”
Kaleemullah, meanwhile, also stated that he is learning from Tulsa Roughnecks coach, former Everton player David Irving, and revealed his objective of playing with the first team regularly.