Sydney\’s announcement of ex-Victory and Avondale attacker Elvis Kamsoba has caught absolutely everybody by surprise, including me.
For all A-League viewers, Kamsoba was a bit of a running joke. A running joke in our most hated rivals who finished dead last in the 2020/21 A-League season. When he was released by Victory at the end of the season I was fairly certain I wouldn\’t see him play in the A-League again.
All of a sudden, I have incredible amounts of pie in my face.
But let\’s look a bit deeper at this signing. Or rather, see me try and fool myself into declaring this not one of the worst signings I can remember.
So, what would he bring?
Kamsoba finished last season as Victory\’s equal top goalscorer, alongside Rudy Gestede and Jake Brimmer. In his two-and-a-half seasons with Victory he showed some glimpses of promise but seriously lacked end product.
So, what does Steve Corica see in Kamsoba?
I see it as two things: a replacement for Jordi Swibel and Luke Ivanovic, and a bit of a declaration that Trent Buhagiar is permanently crocked. Swibel, Ivanovic, and Buhagiar were all very pacy wingers who Corica deployed as either #10s or as strikers in a two-man partnership. Kamsoba started several games for Victory as their #9 while Gestede was injured and scored 5 goals in the end.
The absolute best thing I can say about Kamsoba is that his pace will be beneficial when we\’re up against tired legs – and when we need to rotate around the Asian Champions League. Would I prefer we kept one of Swibel or Ivanovic? 100%.
Corica has made only one major dud signing thus far as manager – Jop van der Linden and that was as much to me about a pre-existing injury than Jop\’s actual talent (or lack thereof).
Elvis outside of the building
Arguably the biggest sin Kamsoba committed last season was being spotted out clubbing after Melbourne Victory\’s humiliating 7-0 derby defeat to rivals Melbourne City. This was such an outrageous incident I\’m amazed that alone wouldn\’t have deterred Sydney from signing the Burundian international.
But, Sydney do have some history of signing players from our rival clubs who had been deemed not good enough for the A-League, and turning them into quality players. The first thing I thought of was the Andrew Redmayne signing back in January 2017. Nobody was happy with that signing at the time, and it went down like a lead balloon.
Perhaps such a tremendous show of faith by Sydney\’s footballing department and change of scene can help Kamsoba seriously improve. Victory were absolutely, limitlessly poor both on and off the pitch. Images of captains throwing away armbands, slapping cards out of referees hands, and immensely half-hearted performances. I\’d suspect a large reason why they were so poor was the culture was rotten and none of the players felt like their coach had confidence in him.
When Kamsoba first signed for Victory, he showed (under a manager who wanted to be there) he had some skill and it was brilliant seeing him back in his Avondale days. Kevin Muscat signing him was a huge show of faith – stepping up from NPL to A-League is tough.
All of a sudden, Muscat leaves. Victory then go through 4 coaches in 18 months. I can\’t imagine any footballer would envy the situation those players found themselves in. Taking an obvious but large stab in the dark, I think Kamsoba\’s development was greatly hindered by this – much like Andrew Nabbout.
Nabbout went away to City and found himself in a team culture that players weren\’t rushing to get out of and flourished in a side that won the double. Was Nabbout already a significantly better player than Kamsoba, of course.
Sydney\’s culture has been lauded and the thing of envy since Graham Arnold\’s double-winning season in 2016/17. Players have left and remained very positive of the club and the people who work there, and how the club has helped them develop due to the culture in place. We\’ve seen goalkeepers lacking in confidence join us and become Socceroos, seen a right-back come back from 2 anterior cruciate ligament injuries, and young players start for us in Grand Finals at the age of 20. This culture is a winning one, and nobody can doubt that. To me, this seems like a perfect way and place to reinvent Elvis Kamsoba from A-League Memes star to Sydney FC quality talent.
I do know that as fans, we have a huge role to play if we want Elvis Kamsoba to succeed at the club. Being laughed at by your own fans, booed by them, and made a scapegoat will not help his confidence. He needs to prove a lot to the fans of the club, but if he\’s willing to do what Corica says and play his part for the team, I\’m behind him.
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