Former Portsmouth winger fearless as Chichester City eye Tranmere Rovers FA Cup scalp

Kaleem Haitham in Pompey academy action. Picture: Mick YoungKaleem Haitham in Pompey academy action. Picture: Mick Young
Kaleem Haitham in Pompey academy action. Picture: Mick Young
Former Pompey winger Kaleem Haitham has no fear heading into the biggest game of his career.

The 21-year-old will be part of the Chichester City side aiming to cause one of the biggest shocks in FA Cup history at Tranmere Rovers on Sunday.

And the Bedhampton-based winger sees no reason why Mile Rutherford’s men cannot overcome Rovers in the televised second-round tie.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It’s been a remarkable run by Chichester City in the FA Cup this season.

Starting back in the extra preliminary round in August, the Oaklands Park outfit have had to come through seven rounds already to set up a date with Tranmere – a team five divisions and 103-places above them in the football pyramid.

But despite the daunting task facing him and his team-mates, Haitham maintains belief City can reach round three.

And the winger, who was released by Pompey at the age of 18, is confident Chichester will cause their League One opponents problems.

‘It’s been mad,’ said Haitham.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

‘From last year and the year before, we haven’t even got through a round.

‘The whole journey, you could not have even guessed this would have happened if you had told us at the start of this year.

‘I’ve said to plenty of people you wouldn’t have expected Leicester to win the league.

‘This is a one-off game, it’s 90 minutes and 11 versus 11.

‘You’ve just got to go for it, you can’t be scared.

‘At the end of the day, we’re all human.

‘I think no matter what team we play against we can hurt them.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

‘With the pace we’ve got up front and the way we’ve been instructed to play, the coaches know our strengths.

‘I think going forward we can hurt any team.’

Haitham came through Pompey’s academy system and made one senior appearance – coming on as a substitute in a Johnstone’s Paint Trophy at Exeter in 2015.

Now in his third season at Chichester City, the gas and electric salesman's ultimate ambition is to make it in the professional ranks in the future.

‘It’s always been my dream as a boy. (going professional),’ added Haitham.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

‘Some people saying you’re not good enough may not be true, it’s just a matter of opinion.

‘You’ve got to move on and do what you want to do, which for me is to be a professional.

‘I definitely want to get back into it.’

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.