Test of mental fortitude for Villa, Vipers

Vipers' Yunus Sentamu (R) takes on SC Villa winger Peter Onzima. PHOTOS/JOHN BATANUDDE 

What you need to know:

The sworn enemies poised to reignite their fascinating rivalry in a clash that could ultimately shape the destiny of the title on Tuesday at Wankulukuku.

As the StarTimes Uganda Premier League campaign bolts towards its climax, the stakes have never been higher for SC Villa and Vipers. 

The sworn enemies poised to reignite their fascinating rivalry in a clash that could ultimately shape the destiny of the title on Tuesday at Wankulukuku.

Vipers are embracing a new dawn having replaced the coaching duo of Richard Wasswa and Fred Muhumuza with departed Livingstone Mbabazi in the dougout but none of their determination to win a third consecutive league trophy seems to fade.

Having each played 21 matches, the slightest of margins separate the two adversaries, with third-placed Vipers (41 points) a point and a position better than Dusan Stojanovic's Jogoos that were held by Busoga United in their last outing.

In a season defined by unpredictability and razor-thin margins, Villa and Vipers are each itching to use their respective two games in hand to dislodge table leaders Kitara (44 points) and second-placed Bul (43), which makes today's duel a must-watch affair.

"We have won two matches in a row (URA and UPDF) and we are lucky to be closing up on table leaders which is also a motivation. Pressure is on our side but I'm happy we maintained it against UPDF," Wasswa said of the Venom's readiness to sting.

With both teams neck and neck in the pursuit of league glory, the monumental showdown will show the Stojanovic's well-drilled Jogoos have bridged the gap between them and the champions having drawn 1-all in the first round at the St Mary's Stadium-Kitende in October last year.

Richard Wasswa is now the stand-in coach at Vipers. 

"We have prepared for Villa like we do against all other teams. We just need to stay focused and plan strategically so that we come out victorious. It is a huge match that will test our resolve to contest for the league title," Wasswa added.

As they prepare to battle again, Villa will be buoyed by memories of last season's 1-0 victory over Vipers  and greedy to earn the bragging rights and further harden their title credentials.

Wasswa has warned of a reinvigorated Vipers side with an insatiable appetite for success, and enjoying a healthy slots jostle that is eyeing a third consecutive league diadem. 

"We shall keep on rotating players because we believe they are on the same level and whoever comes on the pitch will make a difference," he added.

All eyes will be on the Vipers new attacking cast of Allan Okello, Moses Waiswa and Eric Kambale taking on Villa's backline of Anord Odong, Joseph Kafumbe, Juma Ramathan and David Owori that has conceded the least number of goals -15.

The other end, it will be the Jogoos attacking trio of Umar Lutalo, Patrick Kakande and Charles Lwanga probing Vipers new-look backline. Expect nothing but fireworks in this title-shaping contest.

StarTimes Uganda Premier League

Tuesday at 4pm 

SC Villa vs. Vipers, Wankulukuku

SC Villa vs. Vipers last five outings

20/10/23: Vipers 1 - 1 SC Villa
29/04/23: SC Villa 1 - 0 Vipers
29/11/22: Vipers 2 - 0 SC Villa
07/05/22: SC Villa 0 - 0 Vipers
02/02/22: Vipers 3 - 0 SC Villa