Vipers and their nine lives of a cat

Express midfielder Ramz Kawooya battles Vipers forward Eric Kambale. PHOTO/JOHN BATANUDDE 

What you need to know:

The Venoms have taught us that they live for such  big moments and just know when to sting. 

Count Vipers out of this fiercely contested StarTimes Uganda Premier League title contest at your own peril.

The Venoms have taught us that they live for such big moments and just know when to sting. 

Far from impressive this term, the six-time league kings have inexplicably found themselves in the title conversation on the last day.

For the last two seasons when they have hoisted the trophy - literally on the last matchday on both occasions - Vipers have hired and sacked more than two coaches. 

Towards the end of Brazilian Leonard Neiva's short lived spell at the St Mary's Stadium-Kitende this term, Vipers reluctantly lost points to Maroons (1-1), Bul (3-2) and Express (2-0) which inevitably pushed them out of the title picture by January.

Vipers shocked many when they recruited Livingstone Mbabazi, a coach whose demeanor many predicted owner Lawrence Mulindwa couldn't stand, and the rocky relationship indeed produced mixed results.

Mbabazi's turbulent two-month stay at Vipers yielded wins over Nec, Wakiso Giants and Busoga United to keep pace with runaway leaders Bul and Kitara . 

Their dour draws with Gaddafi and Soltilo Bright Stars sandwiched by the home 1-0 loss to KCCA  roused Mbabazi's axing to give his deputy Richard Wasswa, who had stood in during his club suspensions, a chance to take the Venoms over the line.

By failing to give the Venoms a facelift and command that missed during Neiva and Mbabazi's eras, Waswa, with borrowed help from Fred Muhumuza, is presiding over a faceless and unpredictable side that is majorly riding on pedigree and luck to give a shot at the title.

In third spot with 53 points from 28 matches, all that is required is for Vipers to maul Mbarara City on Saturday at Kitende and hope leaders SC Villa (54 points) and second-placed Bul (53 points) falter against Nec and Busoga United respectively.

In a season where no Vipers 'galactico' deserves any personal award for their inconsistent displays, even lifting the title may not be wildy and widely celebrated by even the most faithful.

It's that dim but hope abounds. Milton Karisa (seven goals), Abubakar Lawal (four), Eric Kambale (four) and Fumidor Asiwome (four) remain the goal threat for the Venoms.

For starters, the Ankole Lions are fresh from frustrating Bul's title hopes with a barren draw at Kakyeka and enjoy a checkered history with the Venoms. 

Five losses, 15 wins, 41 goals scored and 19 conceded, the Vipers are restless and have a home pride to salvage. 

Yet, the jury is still out whether such unsightly statistics are not considered sack-worthy by the axe-happy club owner Lawrence Mulindwa.

StarTimes Uganda Premier League

Saturday at 3pm 

Vipers SC vs. Mbarara City, Kitende

Live on BBS TV-free to air

Vipers vs. Mbarara City recent meetings
03/10/23:  Mbarara City 0 - 0 Vipers
17/05/22: Vipers 4 - 0 Mbarara City
11/05/22: Mbarara City 1 - 2 Vipers
05/04/22: Vipers 2 - 0 Mbarara City
19/11/21: Mbarara City 1 - 2 Vipers
18/05/21: Vipers 2 - 3 Mbarara City
06/03/21: Mbarara City 1 - 0 Vipers