The sporting world might have ground to an almighty halt in recent weeks as the global pandemic that is Covid-19 spreads like wildfire but whilst some teams have taken the opportunity to recharge their batteries the same cannot be said for South African Premier League side Highlands Park.
They have announced the signing of former Dynamos striker Kudakwashe Kumwala proving their eyes are firmly on the future.
How did the move materialise?
Kumwala jetted into South Africa from his native Zimbabwe to train with Highlands in early February and it seems their head coach, former Bafana Bafana manager Owen da Gama, has been impressed with the performances he has turned in during his trial period.
As a result, a contract offer was put to Kumwala and, although the specific details of that offer are yet to be released into the public domain, Highlands press officer Sibonelo Ngidi, has confirmed that the versatile attacker will be eligible to play from the start of next season.
How are Kumwala’s new side looking?
Highlands Park currently find themselves smack bang in mid-table – although they could drop to ninth if Bloem Celtic win their game in hand – if and when soccer eventually resumes after the coronavirus has passed. They have been on a poor run of form of late though with a run of five matches in all competitions without a win, the latest defeat a 1-0 loss at the hands of Mamelodi Sundowns in the quarter final of the Nedbank Cup.
Kumwala will be hoping to give the side a more cutting edge but their attack hasn’t been the biggest concern so far this season with defensive frailties more of an issue.
Da Gama’s men are currently shipping an average of 1.3 goals per game, which gives them the worst goals against record of the top half having conceded five more goals than both the Golden Arrows and Orlando Pirates.
Where will Kumwala fit in?
It’s not immediately straight forward to suggest how Kumwala will feature because, just like in the NBA expert picks odds, the probabilities suggest that a player with his age will not be an immediate success. Regardless, you would have to assume that Kumwala, who is now 30 years old, will only be a bit part player with his better years likely behind him.
The former Harare City man had his most productive spell back in 2018 when playing for Dynamos but his performances haven’t reached the same levels since, although he has spoken of his desire to get back to something like that form.
Highlands already have a goal scorer in their team in Peter Shalulile, who has netted 15 in 33 so far this season and has been named as a finalist for the Kick off Player of the Year award, but Kumwala brings different qualities with powerful running and strong hold up play.
Those attributes could be paired with Shalulile – assuming he stays with the club for the 2020/21 campaign, which might be unlikely if he goes on to break the 20 goal mark – but another option might be to utilise Kumwala from the bench to help see games out with his tenacious approach along the frontline a useful tool to take some pressure of a weaker defensive unit.
The final verdict
For one, Kumwala arrives as a free transfer and will not be on a vast sum of money but, more importantly, a fresh start could serve him well.
If De Gama can get Kumwala, who will be desperate to prove his worth, back to anything like his 2018 form then Highlands will have a decent player on their hands.