Vipers sure to grow into groove

Thursday December 6 2018

Rewarded: Abraham Ndugwa (in front) celebrates

Rewarded: Abraham Ndugwa (in front) celebrates his solitary goal that earned Vipers a place in the second round of the CAF Champions League at St Mary’s Stadium Kitende. Behind is serial poacher Dan Serunkuma. PHOTO BY ISMAIL KEZAALA 

By Andrew Mwanguhya

Kampala. Ugandan representatives in the Caf Champions League, Vipers, crafted their own piece of history by squeezing into the first round following a 1-0 victory over Sudanese giants Al- Merreikh. But even they will admit it came with great lessons.
The hosts had goalkeeper Bashir Ssekagya make two pin-point saves from the Sudanese but they will also have wondered what could have been had Tito Okello and Davies Kasirye buried their chances in the first and second halves.
The strategy for Vipers coach Javier Martinez Espinoza was to get that early goal, which came at the start of the second half, and then manage the game.
Actually, after that Abraham Ndugwa’s excellently taken goal, the Venoms somewhat retracted to see the game out. Just!
The result was fantastic. Professional, even. But it also left questions whether Vipers – who face one of Gambia’s Gamtel or Algeria’s Sportif next weekend, have enough to prevail in the next round.
“Remember this is champions League,” said Espinoza, “That was today’s strategy. Every game has its strategy.
“At home you have to be intelligent. We tried to score early and that play of Tito, Kasirye could have been it. Sometimes you score, sometimes you don’t.”
“We know this is Champions. You are not going to score 6-0. We have plan A, plan B, plan C.
“We will try to score away and manage it at home. We will do our best to know more about those two (Gamtel/Sportif).”
Ndugwa, who was scoring his first Vipers goal at St Mary’s Kitende, agrees with his coach.
“If we continue playing to the coach’s instructions and working together, we shall go far,” said the striker, who says his Cranes debut goal against Sao Tome and Principe still upstages yesterday’s.
“The most important thing is the team won,” added Ndugwa, “Of course the goal gives me confidence but I’m happier because the team won.”
Vipers will travel either to Gambia or Algeria for the first round first leg before hosting the return the following week.

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