KAMPALA. For now, Vipers can afford to pride in the home comfort edge but Sudanese giants have the most enviable factor in the Caf Champions League – pedigree.
Vipers coach Javier Martinez acknowledges the herculean task of balancing defence and attack on his hands this afternoon at St Mary’s Stadium when they face Al Merriekh in the return leg considering they have conceded in all their last five matches.
“We learned so much from the first leg because we kept the game at zero (stalemate) until 80 minutes.
“We are still learning to play on the continent but we shall try to win by scoring early,” the Mexican tactician told Daily Monitor yesterday.
In the 2-1 loss in Khartoum a week ago, Vipers were so cautious to the point of employing two holding midfielders – Geoffrey Wasswa and Taddeo Lwanga – something Martinez says will change as they seek to attack the visitors.
“We are ready. My players are ready and we want to be very offensive tomorrow (today). We will be a little bit different from the side we were in Sudan,”
Martinez hinted on starting the attack minded quartet of Noah Wafula, Dan Sserunkuma, Tito Okello and Moses Waiswa to unnerve the Merriekh defence they consider as the ‘weak link’.
“It’s a different match, different environment and for us to go through we must be aggressive and offensive too so expect a change in approach.
“It doesn’t matter how many score; 1, 2, 3 but the target is to stay in the Caf Champions League since we have all the necessary resources.”
Vipers are still without their first choice goalkeeper Fabien Mutombora although they welcome back strikers Davis Kasirye and Steven Mukwala.
Like a team on a special mission, Merriekh were here earlier than expected – on Saturday – to ‘acclimatize and had double training sessions at St Mary’s Stadium on Monday and Tuesday.
Merriekh coach Mohamed Mazda will bank on forwards Bakri Almadina and Ibrahim Altag who netted in the first leg for victory – and maybe the fact that they have won eight matches and lost only two against Ugandan opposition.
Vipers, ousted by Platinum Stars at the same stage last year in the Caf Confederations Cup, can at least do with 1-0 and go through to the next round where they may face either Gamtel of Gambia or Constantine of Algeria. Today offers the home side another chance to etch their names into history further.