This season has been poor by Melbourne Victory’s lofty standards. More than two-thirds of the way through the campaign, they sit ninth with only five wins and 20 points.
Throughout the year, plenty of things have been blamed for the club’s fall.
First, it was Kristijan Dobras’ miserable stint, then, it was Marco Kurz’s tactical mishaps.
In recent weeks, after a long period of patience, there seems to be growing frustration at Elvis Kamsoba’s constant missed opportunities on goal.
Kamsoba has appeared in all but one of his team’s matches but is yet to be directly involved in a goal so far this season.
No goals or assists for someone playing in an attacking role is an abysmal return.
The underlying numbers, notably expected goals, suggest he’s been a tad unlucky, though.
With the number of chances he’s taken shots from, he’d be reasonably expected to score twice. That’s obviously not a massive return, but it does suggest he is worth more than his current tally.
The idea that Kamsoba misses clear-cut chances regularly is a bit harsh too. The shots he’s taken in the clips above might look easy at first, but when you watch it a few times you notice that they he’s not necessarily a poor finisher.
There are some where the angle is tight even when he’s one on one with the keeper, or with there being multiple defenders in the way when he is shooting.
Even with these apparent shooting deficiencies, Kamsoba has been regularly picked by all three of his head coaches since joining early last year.
The reason might be that his strengths are elsewhere, which make him a valuable asset even if he’s not putting away those shots.
This season, while Kamsoba might not have an assist to his name, he is averaging about 1.2 shot assists per game – that is the pass before a shot.
Given his technical ability to drive at his opposition and dribble past them, especially when against isolated full-backs, he regularly produces delicious cut-backs for his teammates to feast on.
Unfortunately, this season has been one where a lot of Victory’s players have been misfiring, but some of the most glaring misses have started from the good work of Kamsoba.
This is once again reflected in the numbers, with the Burundi international’s expected assists suggesting he should have around three assists this season.
Not only can he put his opponents on the backfoot, but Kamsoba does seem to have a knack of finding his teammates free, without any pressure from nearby defenders.
That they have yet to put away any of the chances he’s created should not take away the fact that he is creating clear cut opportunities for his team.
It’s largely agreed upon that, in the modern game, full-backs must also be attacking players when in position.
Increasingly, we are also seeing wingers required to track back and contribute defensively, too.
Perhaps because he is aware that he could be dropped at any moment, Kamsoba is a hard worker without the ball. He participates aggressively when his team presses, and also has the awareness to make tackles and look for interceptions at the right time.
Given Andrew Nabbout and the now-injured Robbie Kruse are on the lower end of the defensive spectrum, it makes it even more imperative that you have a forward who is willing to do the dirty work.
The horrendous mess that is Victory’s midfield has also harmed Kamsoba’s ability to play his natural game. His high number of dribbles completed would work well in a high-tempo team with quick passes and interchange helping him to beat his man, but that hasn’t been the case this season as Carlos Perez Salvachua still searches for the best partnerships in the middle of the park.
It’s also worth remembering that this is the 23-year-old’s first full season at the professional level. The step up from the National Premier Leagues (NPL) to the A-League is a difficult one.
Aside from the obvious lift in quality, it is also simply a change in lifestyle with full-time football that requires time to adapt. Kamsoba has shown enough that he is worth persisting with for at least another season.
There are rumours that next season’s newest addition, Macarthur FC, are looking at signing Kamsoba for their first year.
While it might seem like an easy decision to let him go, he could well show his full potential in the new team from Sydney and leave Victory fans wondering ‘what if?’.