When Vipers’ coach Jorge da Costa walked back to the Lugogo dressing room moments after 3-1 loss to revamped KCCA on Tuesday, he probably knew he still had a lifeline.
After all, it is not the big games that get managers sacked but rather, a poor string of results. Life in his second season of the Azam Uganda Premier League has been cumbersome for the Portuguese coach especially in recent weeks. He has come under fire for the club’s poor form punctuated by just a win in seven outings. “My bags were packed the first day I came to the club,” Da Costa responded to journalists on the question about his future early this week. “Your question (about possible sacking) doesn’t worry me. What worries me is where to go. There are many places around you here (Africa) where I could head. The problem would be to choose where to go.” Even if he seemed bullish, Da Costa was quick to highlight the roots of the club’s shortcomings. “We create many chances but do put the ball inside (the net),” he said.
“We have faced another problem of our line-up changing every match because of different reasons.” It is only central defender Shafik Bakaki, who has started in all the last seven matches for the Venoms.
And three players captain Nicholas Wadada, Milton Karisa and Ismael Watenga have missed just a match since October 14.
SCORE understands inconsistent line-ups have majorly been down to injuries, form of the players and suspensions.
There is still an argument that goalkeeper Watenga, who suffered an ankle injury in Sunday’s training, could have had a better show than James Alitho in Lugogo on Tuesday.
Bar the KCCA goal machine Muhammad Shaban’s brilliance where Alitho did not command his line well during Mustapha Kizza’s set piece deliveries in his first match.
And the third goal that he let in from Derrick Nsibambi after pressure from Allan Kateregga provided specks of his lack of match practice.
The 2015 champions did not concede a goal in the first four games of the season but have gone on to ship in eight in the last seven ties. True, club’s best defender Halid Lwaliwa is still out but changes in the back line haven’t done Da Costa and company any more favours.
The Deus Bukenya - Bakaki combination was the central defence partnership but the former has moved back to central midfield with Geoffrey Wasswa coming into the picture. A knock saw right-back Wadada miss the UPDF match in Bombo, paving way for Ashraf Mandela. Yet Dan Birikwalira’s knee problems have seen Yayo Lutimba take up the left-back position lately.
Taddeo Lwanga and Karisa sat out the UPDF and Mbarara City games respectively after accumulating three yellow cards.
Almost every match, Lwanga has been surrounded with different faces in Tom Masiko, Brian Nkuubi, Moses Waiswa and on another day, Bukenya, Hassan Kalega or Frank Tumwesigye. Rotation of forwards Clovis Mbayi, Erisa Ssekisambu, Steven Mukwala, Baden Mujahid and Tony Odur hasn’t delivered too.
Three of the club’s last four goals, before Kirinya-Jinja SS yesterday, had been scored by defenders which underlines Da Costa’s worries on the ever missed chances by the strikers.
VIPERS’ LAST 7 MATCHES
November 21: KCCA 3-1 Vipers
November 18: Vipers 1-1 Maroons
November 15: UPDF 1-1 Vipers
November 3: Mbarara City 0-1 Vipers
October 28: Onduparaka 0-0 Vipers
October 18: Vipers 1-1 Soana
October 14: Police 2-1 Vipers
DA COSTA AT A GLANCE
Name: Miguel Jorge Da Costa Duarte
Married status: Married with a daughter
Studied: Occupation therapy at university
Clubs played for and coached at:
Espinol and Porto
Qualifications: Uefa B license