KCCA defeat mirrors Vipers’ Caf misery

Monday January 11 2021
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The pain of defeat. Vipers players were the reflection of dejection going down to Al Hilal at home before KCCA replicated the pitiable image when they scored enough to progress but couldn’t defend enough any way. Photos | File & Ismail Kezaala

By Denis Bbosa

Money rarely buys love and to some extent success, they say.
Ugandan football heavyweights KCCA and Vipers are back on drawing boards pondering the next move after their hefty investments yielded nothing in the Caf endeavours.

Reigning Uganda Premier League (UPL) champions Vipers couldn’t get past the Al Hilal (Sudan) challenge in Caf Champions League in December as have KCCA against Rwandan side AS Kigali this week.
Ironically, their early elimination has sporting similarities - all bordering on high player turnover and short on quality, cohesion and focus.

KCCA’s declining curve
When KCCA defied the odds three years ago to make it to the Caf Champions League group stages, club administrators and faithful hoped for a routine.
Manager Mike Mutebi seemed to have pressed the self-destruction button when he let go of the experienced players that had achieved the monumental feat.

“We are always building youngsters from our academy and we will be giving them a chance to impress.
“We educate players to play our way and anybody who doesn’t fit in will leave,” Mutebi boldly started as he jettisoned seasoned campaigners like Paul Mucureezi, Muhammad Shaban, Isaac Kirabira, Ivan Ntege, Geoffrey Sserunkuma and the rest.

Inevitably, even the best performing lads like Allan Okello and Mustafa Kizza from the club brooder have joined paid ranks but question marks remain on the quality of their replacements.

Against AS Kigali last week at Kitende, KCCA lacked the tenacity of departed Muzamir Mutyaba, the creativity of Mike Mutyaba or the penetrative force of Okello. Not starting league games aside, teenage defender Musa Ramathan, who was guilty of giving away a rather cheap penalty, is still miles away from offering the steel Timothy Awany and Habib Kavuma gave to the team.

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That dominant KCCA side that swept to its first league and Uganda Cup double in 2017 had been knitted together since Mutebi returned to Lugogo in July 2015.

The remnants of the team would drag KCCA to another league title in 2019, only for the likes of Sadam Juma, Jackson Nunda, two Mutyabas, Erisa Sekisambu and Jackson Nunda to get the boot.

With an average age of 23, it was highly doubted KCCA would mount a sustainable challenge on the continent in a period worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic. As KCCA learnt, having six debutants can’t take you far, even when one of them, Brian Aheebwa, produces a hat-trick of goals.

Vipers gaffer mess
Whereas Mutebi can pride as the longest serving coach in the UPL, Vipers diehards are not certain Fred Kajoba will complete the season at the helm.
The turnover in the managerial seat in mirrored in the playing staff with the club’s identity of nurturing players from academy franchise – St Mary’s SS Kitende – lost along the way.

For every Caf attempt, Vipers have to front new faces and new challenges. Unlike KCCA that can partly boast of a commendable home record, Vipers is yet to make their magnificent St Mary’s Stadium a fortress.

Like KCCA, Vipers was bereft of team cohesion, puffing and huffing home and away, hoping for the end to justify the means.
Great teams on the continent like Al Ahly, Sundowns and TP Mazembe don’t follow that script.

dbbosa@ug.nationmedia.com

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