From the NPL to facing Paulinho: Kamsoba reflects on his incredible journey

This time last year Elvis Kamsoba was playing in front of a few hundred people in Victoria’s NPL with Avondale FC.

On Wednesday night the 22-year-old could turn out with Melbourne Victory against one of the biggest clubs in Asian at the 55,000 capacity Tianhe Stadium.

Victory’s opponents in their third AFC Champions League group stage match are Chinese powerhouses Guangzhou Evergrande.

It’s a club with seemingly endless riches that is managed by Italian World Cup winner Fabio Cannavaro and with players like Brazilian international Paulinho.

For Kamsoba, the prospect of being involved in such a high-profile clash is a reminder of just how far he’s come in the last 12 months.

“Last year at this time I was playing for Avondale in the NPL in Victoria so to be able to be here now…it’s something I can’t really say how I feel,” the lively attacker told Victory’s official website.

Guangzhou Evergrande's Brazilian star Paulinho
Guangzhou Evergrande's Brazilian star Paulinho

“It’s something I really didn’t think I would ever do.

“Coming from Africa and a refugee camp to be playing in an ACL game against Guangzhou and some of the best players in the world...I couldn’t imagine it really.

“It’s something I never thought would happen so I’m very happy for that.”

Kamsoba came to the attention of Australian football fans during last year’s FFA Cup as part of the Avondale side that made it through to the quarter-finals.

After also tearing up the NPL in 2018, Victory soon offered him a trial before he was signed to a Hyundai A-League contract earlier this season.

Elvis Kamsoba in action for Avondale in last year's FFA Cup
Elvis Kamsoba in action for Avondale in last year's FFA Cup

The Burundi-born winger has so far made 11 appearances in the Hyundai A-League for Kevin Muscat’s side, admitting the transition from the NPL to professional football had had its challenges.

 “It’s very different to what I’m used to. Even now I’m trying to adjust and be as professional as I can,” Kamsoba said.

“Playing in the NPL you have to go to work in the morning and then train at night time so I think what the club did, they gave me two months before I could play with the team that helped me a lot with my fitness and building my confidence.

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“I’ve been happy [with my form] in moments,” he added.

“I’ve put myself under pressure trying to score and create things for the team coming off the bench.

“I think I need to be more relaxed and a bit more composed in front of goals. Things will work out better after that.”

After two straight losses to begin their ACL campaign, Victory are at do-or-die time if they hope to progress to the knockout stage.