RailHawks establish African strike force with Bundu signing | Sports

RailHawks establish African strike force with Bundu signing

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Sallieu Bundu, as seen in training camp recently
  • Sallieu Bundu, as seen in training camp recently

The Carolina RailHawks signed yet another of Martin Rennie's old Cleveland City Stars. Officials announced today that Sallieu Bundu, a 2nd-team All-USL-2 selection in 2008, had agreed to terms with the Cary-based team. 

The Sierra Leone native is a striker and scored 11 goals last season for the Stars in league and non-league play. In August, he scored the winning goal in the USL-2 championship game.

The signing of Bundu, who had already been training with the team, means the RailHawks will have a deadly African duo up top—the other is Hamed Diallo of Ivory Coast, who returns to Cary after a fine half-season last year. The third forward on the roster, as it happens, is African-American: Aaron King.

Still no news of forward Dan Antoniuk, the major remaining question mark from last year's squad.

The 25-year-old Bundu comes to Cary with a compelling back story: When he was 15, his family was forced to flee its home when civil war broke out. He, his siblings and his mother made it to Guinea; his father was murdered. Several years ago, Bundu received a green card and settled in Twinsburg, Ohio. After trying out with the Columbus Crew, he caught Martin Rennie's eye at Cleveland.

The complete announcement comes after the jump:

Cary, NC (Thursday, February 19, 2009) - The Carolina RailHawks announced today the signing of USL-2 Champion and Sierra Leone International, forward Sallieu Bundu. Bundu will make his RailHawks debut in the "Community Shield" on Saturday, March 14, when the RailHawks take on the New England Revolution of Major League Soccer. Individual tickets ($10, $15 and $20) are on sale now on the Carolina RailHawks website or by calling the LGFCU Box Office at 919-859-KICK (5425).

"Sallieu Bundu is an excellent striker," said RailHawks Head Coach Martin Rennie. "He came to an open training session in Cleveland and impressed us right away. He's really good playing with his back to goal and he's a great finisher. He scored 11 goals for Cleveland last year between regular season and playoffs."

"I wanted to play with Coach Rennie for a couple more years," said RailHawks forward Sallieu Bundu. "I had the opportunity of going to Europe or MLS but I knew that if I was going to stay in America I wanted to work with him. I love this facility and I am here to play soccer to the best of my ability and with God's grace I am looking to give the fans something to look forward to."

Sallieu Bundu's story is quite unique; civil war broke out in his native Sierra Leone in 1991 forcing him and his family to flee on foot to nearby Guinea. Five years later, Bundu's brother received a Green Card and moved his family to the United States. Bundu continued to pursue his dream of playing soccer professionally and after tryouts with the Columbus Crew he walked on to a pitch in front of Martin Rennie who was so impressed he signed him right away to a contract with Cleveland.

Bundu proceeded to score a total of 11 goals for the Cleveland City Stars including the 2008 USL-2 Championship game-winner. He was named to the USL-2 team of the Week three times and was named to the 2008 All-League second team. He was also recently called up to the Sierra Leone National team where he has two caps and tallied one goal and two assists.

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