Mohammed Kallon is perhaps facing one of the most critical stages of his illustrious playing career. Having initially made his name with Inter Milan where he finished the team’s second top scorer in the 2001/02 season, Kallon moved to Asia where he fired Al Ittihad to the 2005 FIFA Club World Cup as Asian champions. The Sierra Leone star is now based in China where his newly-adopted Shaanxi Chanba side is languishing at the bottom of the Chinese Super League with just five points from their opening six matches.
The results are far from ideal for the big-spending Xi’an-based outfit, who arguably boast the C-League’s biggest import in Kallon. Under the stewardship of former China coach Zhu Guanghu, the club also possesses the national team striking duo of Qu Bo and Yu Hai. “It was by no means the start we expected,” Kallon recently told FIFA.com. “But we are a new team and it may take time for the players to settle in and gel into a competitive unit.”
Despite the team’s indifferent form, Kallon has quickly become the team’s talisman hitting four goals in the early part of the season. After scoring against Dalian Haichang and Jiangsu Sainty, which yielded the team two draws, Kallon then netted a brace to sink the high-flying Shenzhen Ruby for Shaanxi’s only victory of the campaign to date.
Despite the goalscoring form Kallon insists he could have performed much better. “Three of my goals came from spot-kicks so I am hoping I can turn in better displays and the team becomes stronger in the games to come. It was China’s footballing potential that attracted me to move here and my goal is not only winning the league title with Shaanxi but also playing good football.
“We can overcome the recent disappointment to get our campaign back on track,” Kallon continues. “We will strive for our second win against Nanchang and in the long run we will be a competent side in the league as long as we play well together.”
By most measures the finest player his country has produced, Kallon moved to Serie A in 1995, where he remained for the best part of a decade rubbing shoulders with the likes of Christian Vieri, Ronaldo and Alvaro Recoba during his time at the San Siro. Highlights during various loan spells included an 11-goal haul at Reggina in the 1999/2000 season, and a further eight goals with Vicenza the following year. In total he racked up 14 goals during his three-year spell with I Nerazzurri competing for his place in the forward line alongside some of world football’s elite.
Aiming for history
Playing in the FIFA World Cup™ remains the ultimate stage for any player and Kallon is of course no exception. Since his goalscoring debut in a 1996 CAF Africa Cup of Nations qualifier, Kallon has featured prominently for the west African nation in four FIFA World Cup qualifying competitions only for each to end in disappointment.
“We came close to making an impact in qualifying for Korea/Japan 2002 during which we stunned Nigeria 1-0 and in our latest attempt for Africa’s first World Cup we also managed to cause some upsets including defeating South Africa," stated the 30-year-old Leone Stars skipper. "Despite the eventual failures, our team has made sustained progress with more talents unearthed.
“I love my country and it is my dream to feature for my team in the World Cup. We may have missed out on South Africa 2010 but I hope we can make amends in four years by progressing to Brazil 2014.”