By: David Gombe
Two time league champions Vipers SC had a below standard 2016-17 season after finishing trophy less for the first time since 2014.
However the Kitende based side looks well placed to challenge for this season’s league championship with few changes made in the last 6 months.
Last season, Vipers finished 3rd in the league and a shocking exit in the Uganda Cup losing 1-0 in their own backyard against Paidha Black Angels at the round of 16 stage plus a baffling elimination from the CAF confederation cup by Platinum Stars.
In March, Vipers appointed Miguel Da Costa to take over from the sacked Abudallah Mubiru.
Vipers will be under the tutelage of Portuguese tactician Jorge Miguel Da Costa Duarte and he will be deputised by the long serving Edward Golola. The team also filled the vacuum in the technical department naming Eddie Kaweesa as the goal keeping coach and coach Edward Ssali as the fitness coach.
Vipers SC captured signatures of Tadeo Lwanga from SC Villa, Tom Masiko from the champions KCCA, Congolese striker Mbayi Clovis Mousa from Lupopo FC, Mukwala Steven from Edgar’s Youth, Mujahedeen Baden from Mutungo FC and Yayo Lutimba from URA FC. Young midfielder Bamutulaki Ashraf “Fadiga” has been elevated to the senior team from the academy.
However, the club lost midfielder Keziron Kizito to AFC Leopards in Kenya and Siraje Sentamu to URA fc but also sent players on loan, Musa Esenu, Bashir Mutanda and Ibrahim Kayiwa to Kirinya Jinja SS, Brian Kakaire to BUL fc, Alfred Leku to Onduparaka and Aggrey Madoi to Police FC.
The club’s major strength is the depth in the squad. On paper, Vipers is arguably the best and strongest squad, boasting of the best midfield in the league that includes former SC Villa Captain Taddeo Lwanga, Tom Masiko, Hassan Kalegga, Deus Bukenya, and Moses Waisswa.
Vipers’ major weakness has always been losing points to small opponents, just like last season they lost to struggling to Kirinya Jinja SS, shared spoils with Bright stars, JMC Hippos and Sadolin paints.
Another undoing was scoring very few goals last season. Vipers managed to score only 35 goals despite being star studded with very many creative midfielders and an exciting forward line.
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He was Vipers top scorer last season and he will be hoping to better the 12 tally he managed . His experience, maturity and accuracy in the box will be very vital for the venoms.
The cunning creative midfielder will be playing his first full season at Vipers having joined in the January transfer window from Swedish outfit Voxjo. Waiswa is blessed with a deft, immaculate touch on the ball and he is blessed with the ability to dictate play from midfield.
Arguably the best goalkeeper in the league. He was voted the best goalkeeper in the league last season having kept 15 clean sheets. Watenga is expected to command the league’s best defence yet again. The experience gained by Watenga international duty will serve a lot to him in improving his confidence.
The full squad
Ismail Watenga, Alitho James, Ochan Derrick.
Nicolas Wadada, Geoffrey Wasswa, Yayo Lutimba, Joseph Mandela, Halid Lwaliwa, Shafik Bakaki, Musa Malunda, Dan Birikwalira, Njakoojo Benjamin.
Deus Bukenya, Taddeo Lwanga, Frank Zaga Tumwesigye, Moses Waiswa, Tom Masiko, Brian Nkuubi, Duncan Seninde, Mujahedeen Baden, Hassan Kalega Gaata, Mike Serumaga, Aziz Kemba, Ashraf “Fadiga” Bamutulaki.
Tony Odur, Milton Karisa, Mbayi Clovis Musa, Erisa Keith Sekisambu, Mukwala Steven, Wanji Pius.
With the enviable facilities at Vipers’ disposal, it would be foolhardy if anyone tried to write off Vipers among the front runners to be crowned champions by the May 2018. They are blessed with the money bags of owner and business mogul Lawrence Mulindwa, they have a technically astute coach, better quality training facilities and a good academy system courtesy of St Mary’s Kitende school team. If there is any serious contenders for the league this year, then it’s supposed to be vipers SC.