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Kamara, Finally...

... but is it too little, too late?

Ivory Coast vs. Sierra Leone - Group E: African Cup of Nations 2021
Kei Kamara atop former Spurs defender Steven Caulker’s shoulders as the pair celebrate a 2-2 draw with Ivory Coast at last month’s AFCON tournament in Douala, Cameroon.
Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images

Manchester United is hardly the club to mimic these days.

The Old Trafford Reds have settled for signing aging stars in failing bids to re-discover past glories. The once incomparable Cristiano Ronaldo (37) and Edinson Cavani (35) are recruits which remain part of the current senior squad at Old Trafford, and not long ago Zlatan Ibrahimovic was another to arrive in the twilight of a mightily impressive career.

Now CF Montreal, with a dearth of attacking talent at its disposal, has travelled down a similar, uncertain route.

Welcome to Montreal.... finally.... Kei Kamara! A player who needs no introduction having scored a bucketful of goals against the Impact and well over a century in MLS.

There’s been rumours before of the big striker homing in on Montreal as a destination, but it’s never happened until now. But is it too late?

Speaking to BBC Africa about the move, Kamara who will be 38 in September says, “I don’t see myself slowing down for no reason.

“I have taken good care of myself my whole career just to make it to this point so I have to reward myself for all my sacrifices over the years.”

There’s no doubt the Montrealers are short of attacking options. One player, Mason Toye, gets injured, and all of a sudden, there’s only really Romell Quioto, Bjorn Johnsen (still making a gradual return from Covid) and Sunusi Ibrahim, to pick up the striking reins.

Even if not for the Toye injury, Montreal’s complement of strikers still looked undersubscribed going into 2022.

Removing the American’s 2021 goal output, the other three managed only a combined 14 goals in 71 appearances between them. Quioto himself claimed 8 of those from 19 appearances (14 starts). Allowing for the fact most of Johnsen’s and Sunusi’s contributions arrived only after emerging from the bench, it still doesn’t make encouraging reading.

SOCCER: SEP 09 MLS - Montreal Impact at NE Revolution
Kei Kamara was often too hot to handle for the Impact. Here he takes on Louis Beland-Goyette in the colours of New England Revolution, one of eight previous MLS clubs he has played for.
Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After going without a club for a period once his time at Minnesota United ended, Kamara joined IFK Helsinki contributing 5 goals in 14 appearances in 2021.

The Finnish League is far from Europe’s strongest and it remains to be seen if Kamara’s once considerable athleticism, height and finishing, which made him a feared MLS striker, all remain in tact.

No-one will admit it, but this is a gamble, although an interesting one, thrusted upon a club in panic over its goal-scoring prospects. It’s certainly not part of well-thought-out recruitment planning.

Olivier Renard admitted as much. “Due to the absence of several players with an offensive profile... we had to act and strengthen the workforce.

“Kei is a player with a lot of experience in MLS whose offensive skills will help us both on the field and with our group of young players.”

Kamara played for Sierra Leone in the recent AFCON tournament in Cameroon, missing a penalty in the final group game against Equatorial Guinea. Had he scored it would have sent the Leone Stars beyond the group stage for the first time in history.

Subsequently his house in the capital, Freetown was targeted by angry fans and had to be protected by police. Kamara told the BBC, “I don’t want to talk about international football now. I just want to focus on my club and family right now.”

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Norwich City v Everton - Carrow Road
Premier League Days... Kei Kamara (16) leaps highest and powers in a header to equalize for Norwich City against Everton in February 2013. Norwich went on to win the game 2-1.
Photo by PA Images via Getty Images