Vipers can learn from rivals KCCA

Sunday July 28 2019

Abdu Lumala

Abdu Lumala 

By Robert Madoi

NEW BULLS- KCCA FC and Vipers SC have wasted no time in demonstrating the sheer weight of their domination. Although they face problems that both could be more worried about than they care to admit, strings of blue-sky weather have not been in scant supply at KCCA and Vipers.

The biggest match in Ugandan club football supposedly pits record champions SC Villa against the old enemy Express FC.
The derby might still pull in extraordinary crowds, but every time these two antagonists meet the occasion has the air of a farewell. This was unfathomable as recent as after the turn of the second millennium.

But while the red and blue halves of Kampala appear to put no effort into their appearance, another pair has found comfort in wearing the cloak of a dominant gladiator. KCCA and Vipers have wasted no time in demonstrating the sheer weight of their domination. Although they face problems that both could be more worried about than they care to admit, strings of blue-sky weather have not been in scant supply at KCCA and Vipers.

Sleeping giants
Lugogo and Kitende have let off the handbrake well knowing that underestimating the regenerative capacity of sleeping giants is thoughtlessly bold. In pushing the limits of their performances, KCCA and Vipers have made it their business to always do something.

With a willingness to be competitive becoming their qualifying threshold, Lugogo and Kitende have been loaded with possibilities.
The past seven league championships have been split by the two clubs. And things don’t look like they are about to change anytime soon. The bricks and mortar at Kitende has, however, changed so rapidly and noticeably.

Just a few days back, the club’s indefatigable patron, Lawrence Mulindwa cut the ribbon on a state-of-the-art gym. Of course there is a clear and present danger of the Venoms being unable to hold it together if their larger-than-life patron suddenly lost interest. For now, though, it is happy days, and Mulindwa’s moneybags have become a magnet for enterprising players like Paul Willa and Allan Kayiwa.

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While Vipers’ aggressive, if scattergun, approach in the transfer market has earned both the affection and admiration of their fans, KCCA have gone about business in a starkly different manner.

Last weekend the Kasasiro Boys won the Cecafa Kagame Cup with the genius and creativity of their academy graduates telling.
It was a coming-of-age tournament for teenage striker Sadat Anaku, who struck match winners against Azam FC (group stage) and Green Buffaloes (semi-finals).
The status of KCCA’s academy being enormously supportive to its first team makes the grandeur of Vipers’ glamour buys less impressive than it is foolhardy.

Darling of many
Before Afcon 2019 kicked off, Abdu Lumala was barely known and what little people knew of him they didn’t much like. After turning in performances that showed he can be exceptional in his intelligence, Lumala swiftly became the flavour of the moment.
Everyone wanted a piece of him, including his former alma mater, St Mary’s Boarding Secondary School Kitende, which of course is a breeding ground of Vipers’.

So how is it that Lumala didn’t manage to get a look into the Venoms’ first team?
The quick answer to that question is a clogged pipeline that has glamour buys shutting out precocious prodigies (like Steven Sserwadda who is on KCCA’s books).
While lightning continues to strike twice in Kitende, there are no such slim pickings for prodigies at Lugogo.
The likes of Ramathan Musa and Herbert Achai are getting game time.
It surely wouldn’t hurt Vipers to borrow a leaf, would it?

Coach Mubiru has to shake goal-shy monkey off his back

Uganda was widely expected to be a hulking presence in Djibouti during yesterday’s 2020 African Nations Championship pre-qualifier against lowly Somalia.

The tournament, which has come to be known by its Chan acronym, is exclusive to players plying their trade in their native countries.
The Cranes have habituated their fans to qualifying for this big time. Another favourable draw means that the smart money is on Uganda yet again having a measure of its opponents.

If this does happen, expect the chasing pack to feel a twinge of envy. But most importantly, expect a sense of energy and accomplishment to filter back into indigenous coaches.

Abdallah Mubiru, who has been asked to sit in the dugout for this campaign, is held in such high esteem by many Ugandan football stakeholders. And rightly so.

Exhibition football
Mubiru’s teams are known to play exhibition football. This isn’t accidental by any stretch of imagination. If anything it owes to the fact that Mubiru isn’t afraid to shoe-horn many attacking players into his line-ups. The empty blast of sour breath brought on by functional football is frowned upon by Mubiru.
A coach of searing tactical clarity, his teams are rarely held in a grip of negative tactics. Yet even as he banishes the lingering stench of reactive football, the goals return of his teams tend to lose him friends he badly needs.

In last season’s Uganda Premier League, Mubiru’s Police FC stuttered to just 41 goals in 30 matches. Even as a Cranes coach, Mubiru has found that goals - or at any rate what occasions them - have died up.

This was not just at the 2019 Cosafa Cup, but also in trial games against the likes of Kitara region and Proline. Needless to say this deficit has to dealt with decisively.

What we now know....

We know that Vipers SC is in the market for a new head coach after severing ties with Michael Nam Ouma and the rest of his backroom staff.
We know that the Venoms placed second in last season’s Uganda Premier League after mustering 59 points from 30 matches.
The haul, cobbled together by 16 wins and 11 draws, was seven points shy of what eventual champions KCCA FC mustered.
We know that Ouma stepped into the slippers of Mexican Javier Martinez Espinoza, who was sent on gardening leave during the halfway stage of 2018/19 season.

@robertmadoi
rmadoi@ntv.co.ug

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