Vipers are ready to make a big step onto the next level in the Confederation of African Football (Caf) Champions League when they engage Al Hilal Club of Sudan in the preliminary round on November 28th at the St Mary’s Stadium, Kitende.
Coach Fred Kajoba’s troops will be under no illusions of the challenges that lie ahead if Vipers want to make it to the group stages of Africa’s elite club competition next year.
The Venoms have faced a couple of teams from different parts of the continent in the past and will for the second time make a trip to Sudan having been there in 2018 to play El Merriekh.
Here is how we have fared against our rivals at the preliminary stage in the previous Caf club competitions;
With the Venoms having won the maiden title in 2010 since gaining promotion to the Uganda Premier League topflight league, the Kitende-based side was looking forward to playing at the highest level in club competition in Africa for the first time. Unfortunately financial constraints limited the club’s engagement in the Caf Champions League in 2011.
2016: Vipers vs. Enyimba FC
Vipers were drawn against Nigerian side Enyimba FC in the first round of the Caf Champions League. This was such an important milestone for the club because it was the time the Venoms were going to represent the country at this level.
With George Nsimbe in charge of the dugout, we beat the Nigerian outfit 1-0 at Nakivubo Stadium – thanks to striker Erisa Ssekisambu’s strike. The result gave the team momentum and hope going into the reverse fixture.
The return leg away in Port Harcourt brought our short stay in the competition to an immediate end following a 2-0 defeat.
Vipers failed to make it past the preliminary round of their first appearance in the Caf Champions League in 2016.
2017: Vipers vs. Volcan de Moroni FC
Months on Vipers were back on the continent but this time in the Caf Confederation Cup after winning the Uganda Cup in the season gone-by.
The draw pitted us against Comoros’ Volcan de Moroni, who we hosted first at Namboole Stadium, and were unluckily held to a barren draw.
The return leg was tougher and challenging as we had to play on artificial turf for the first time and also under searing hot conditions. But Lady Luck was on our side with Deus Bukenya’s header enough to send us through to the next round on the away goal aggregate after the game ended 1-1.
Edward Golola’s next task was an exciting date with Platinum Stars FC from South Africa in March 2017. This was Vipers’ opening game at their new home, St Mary’s Stadium.
The attendance to date is the highest so far in the club’s history and the day was fittingly sealed with a 1-0 thanks to Milton Karisa’s solitary strike.
His goal was the first to be scored at the St Mary’s Stadium turf.
Meanwhile the chances of making it to the group stages diminished after losing away at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg, South Africa.
2018: El Merriekh FC vs. Vipers
Despite El Merriekh’s history and pedigree in this competition, Vipers managed to dump the Sudan giants out of the Champions League at the first stage.
The Kitende side lost 2-1 away in Khartoum before winning 1-0 at home and progressed on the away goals’ rule after a 2-all aggregate score.
Subsequently, the Venoms went on to face CS Constantine at the qualifying round loosing 1-0 away and 2-0 at home. The Algerian outfit showed us the exit door to the Confederation Cup where we played Tunisia’s CS Sfaxien.
Our pursuit for group qualification has been elusive but each appearance has been a learning curve of sorts and we hope to make it count this time round.
Coaches who have handled Vipers at the preliminary stage in Caf club competitions;
2016: George Nsimbe
2017: Edward Golola
2018: Javier Martinez Espinoza
2020: Fred Kajoba
Vipers scorers in the preliminary round:
Vipers vs. Enyimba: 1-0 (Erisa Ssekisambu)
Volcan de Moroni vs. Vipers: 1-1 (Deus Bukenya)
El Merriekh vs. Vipers: 2-1 (Dan Sserunkuma)
Vipers vs. El Merriekh: 1-0 (Abraham Ndugwa)
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