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New Norwich City signing Kei Kamara challenges Mark Schwarzer for the ball with the Fulham goalkeeper reacting rather theatrically falling to the floor in a heap. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images
Monday, February 11, 2013
It wasn’t quite a fairytale ending for Kei Kamara’s Norwich City debut, but his late cameo certainly offered plenty of promise after lighting up Saturday’s pedestrian goalless draw with Fulham.
The Canaries have now scored just once in nine hours of football, although a third clean sheet in five Premier League matches at least meant Chris Hughton’s side chalked up another point towards survival – before heading out to Abu Dhabi for a four-day warm weather training break.
It was all a little more frosty at Carrow Road, with the game only hitting its top gear following Kamara’s introduction for the final minutes.
The on-loan Sporting Kansas City striker had Grant Holt’s morning back spasms to thank for his place on the bench. But he came on to show power and pace as the hosts tried to force the issue. And that provided the game’s shining light given the Sierra Leone forward only arrived in the UK on Wednesday, trained twice with his new team-mates and had done little more than a bit of pre-season work for his MLS club.
“I can’t believe it happened that fast but definitely, that is why I am here,” said the likeable 28-year-old.
“I want to be here, the coach wants me to be here and he didn’t want to rush me into things. But it is a dream and when that’s a part of you, it is going to happen. I am just honoured to be here having this night right now.
“I don’t think I’m far off fitness-wise. Obviously by the next game I should definitely be in shape. I was doing some fitness the morning of the game, obviously not thinking I was going to be in the squad. So it’s just great to have a chance. To get called up and then the next minute getting my debut at home, it’s great. Fitness-wise I’m always doing stuff so I’m not far off.
“It was a kind of late call, but like I said it’s just a great honour to be a part of it and be the guy the coach can call for, and just being here. It’s a great experience but from me now it’s all about working hard and being part of it. It’s not just about making an appearance any more. It’s for me to be a part of it and for it to be a regular thing.”
His 86th minute arrivals still proved time for a marauding run down the left, winning a header than drifted over Mark Schwarzer’s goal and a clash with the goalkeeper that saw him harshly penalised for a foul – when the decision could have arguably gone the other way.
“Definitely I got to the ball first,” said Kamara. “Obviously they called a foul on me but I touched the ball and the ball hit him in the head, so I don’t know. If I’d got a penalty for that it would’ve been great, but it definitely wasn’t a foul on him.
“Playing at home, no matter where it’s at, it’s a place where you have got to work on getting three points. So when it comes to games like this, before the game everybody had the hunger to come out and do that. After the game we were not really happy. I mean, I might be smiling now but it’s not like it was a job well done. We still felt like we could have got more points from that game.”
While there was plenty of frustration around Carrow Road following the final whistle, few would begrudge Kamara a smile at making his Premier League bow – the latest chapter of a journey that started off as a means for the Sierra Leone refugee to get a college education in the United States.
“This definitely lived up to the expectation,” Kamara added. “It was great. It gave me a bit of goosebumps just warming up on the side and hearing your name being called, and it’s in England. It’s not anywhere else. So I’m looking forward to playing more games.
“I’ve only had two days training. I thought it’d be a lot harder to get to know everyone but I go home and get on my iPad and kind of stalk everybody, trying to figure out their names and what. So it’s easy. The guys are good, the locker room has been great. They welcome you really well, so with that it’s not really much of a problem like going into a place where there is too much tension.
“The first day I came in they had a darts tournament so when they had that all the pressure was lifted off my shoulders and I felt good and I felt in.
“I’m great at darts actually – won the trophy, but I passed it on so… I’m not really, but I’m sure there are a lot of things I’m going to pick up being here – playing darts, playing golf, all that and whatever else they play in the cold.”