Vipers want Raja scalp for pride

Striker Lawal is hoping that the change of coach will alter his fortunes. PHOTO/EDDIE CHICCO 

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With the other attacking colleagues, Lawal carries the cross for going four group matches without a goal and above all a win which ultimately dimmed Vipers' progression chances in Group C.

It has been a rollercoaster start to life at Vipers for Nigerian lanky forward Abubakar Lawal, first failing to hit the ground running on arrival during Roberto Oliveira's spell before going off the radar under Beto Bianchi.

With the other attacking colleagues, Lawal carries the cross for going four group matches without a goal and above all a win which ultimately dimmed Vipers' progression chances in Group C.

Ahead of the daunting Raja Casablanca visit on Saturday at the St Mary's Stadium-Kitende, Vipers have raked one point and are basically out to salvage pride and maybe bolster a craved for renaissance.

Lawal, who missed the 5-0 drubbing by Raja Casablanca in Morocco and Horoya's barren draw at the St Mary's Stadium-Kitende, feels like an unchained striker now after the arrival of new coach Alex Isabirye on Monday.

The former AS Kigali striker was recruited to fit into Cesar Manzoki's gigantic scoring shoes but has only been limited to cameo roles twice against Simba until Isabirye's promised to give him a new lease of life.

In Isabirye's debut against Wakiso Giants in the Stanbic Uganda Cup on Tuesday at Wakiso, Lawal rose off the bench and made an impact as Vipers pressed for an equaliser to offer a glimpse at what he is capable of.

"We are in a difficult time as strikers but  we are training so hard to get the goals," he revealed.

Vipers 708-minute goal voodoo was finally broken by right-back Ashraf Mandela at Kabaka Kyabaggu Stadium but the onus is still on forwards Lawal,Martin Kizza, Yunus Sentamu, Ibrahim Orit and Desire Tety to get their scoring shoes on.

"I don't know him (Isabirye) well yet but according to his training sessions, I see positive plans and the motivation to win in the camp is now high, " Lawal added. 

He offers a different option in attack if Vipers choose to exploit is aerial ability and tends to get into scoring pockets only that the finishing killer touch still deserts him.

Vipers scenting blood

With Raja Casablanca already qualified with 12 points, Simba now second with six and Horoya raking four points, Isabirye told Score there is still much to play for.

"The victory (over Wakiso Giants) gave the team a good feeling and it means we are on the right track.

"Like Mandela scored. The burden of finding the net is for everyone on the pitch, " says Isabirye, who guided Bul in the Caf Confederation Cup this term  before falling to Egyptian side Future before falling at the first hurdle.

He reckons the Moroccans are going to face a Vipers side with a psyched up mindset and polished character and could be in for a shocker.

"I'm going to ring more changes against Raja so expect a different and hungry Vipers side, " Isabirye stressed.

Burundian Fabian Mutombora will most likely dislodge first choice Alfred Mudekereza who gave Raja free goal gifts in the first encounter.

To absorb the visitors' relentless attacks, Isabirye might maintain the backline of Issa Mubiru, Livingstone Mulondo, Hillary Mukundane and Mandela as Bashir Asiku (suspension), Disan Galiwango (suspension) and Murushid Juuko (injury) are ruled out.

Night duty

Mondher Kebaier's Raja lost to Hassania 2-1 in the league on Monday but he jets into Kampala with an undiluted conviction to win on the road.The floodlights at Kitende, first experimented against Simba will add spectacle to a match that many have billed as a routine.

Instead, much attention will be geared towards the Benjamin Mkapa Stadium in Dar es Salaam as home side Simba battles the Guineans at the same time for the bridesmaids role to Raja.

Caf Champions League 

Saturday fixture - 7pm 

Vipers vs. Raja