Vipers Sports Club has won the Uganda Premier League three times but the 2014-15 triumph stands out from the other two occasions (2009-10 and 2017-18) given the manner in which they won the championship.

Right from the start of the season, the Venoms showed their intent, setting the pace in the title race and lasted the distance to clinch the 2014-15 league title under coach Edward Golola who since then has been juggled between being head coach and assistant to many tacticians that have come along.

The breakthrough of several rookies into the senior team most of whom had been promoted from St. Mary’s Kitende was itself unique and the team went ahead to claiming glory, losing just one game in the season. The loss surprisingly came against minnows KJT Rweshama who eventually got relegated.

Dan Bilikwalira and Deus Bukenya had joined Vipers SC at the start of the 2013/14 season while Farouk Miya, Halid Lwaliwa and James Alitho among others joined midway but all from the school side and they did not frown when the chance came to play in the top tier league.

The following season (2014-15), the aforementioned players had become key pillars on the team and there is no surprise that they provided dividends.

It should be noted that at the time, St. Mary’s Kitende was almost untouchable in the post-primary competitions. Between 2010 – 2015, they had won four of the possible six titles with only Bishop Nankyama (2010) and Kibuli SS (2014) coming in between.

Fast forward, the Venoms have clearly shown interest in winning this season’s championship given the good start in the 12 games played so far.  Joel Muyita makes a critical analysis at the striking resemblance of the 2014-15 winning squad and the current team.

Same coach

It is hard to detach the success Vipers SC has attained from Edward Golola. He has been involved in all the titles the club has won including the three league titles, two as head coach and the other as assistant to Portuguese, Miguel Duarte Da Costa in 2018.

When the Venoms parted ways with Nigerian coach Ambrose Duru Chukuma in October 2013, they easily fell back to Golola who was then assistant coach. He finished the season in caretaker capacity and later on, he was given the mantle to lead the team. With 17 of the players in the squad having played under him at the school side, it was easy for Golola to form a formidable unit.

Joel Muyita | Kawowo Sports Edward Golola poses with the manager of the season award after guiding Vipers SC to 2014-15 season

Last year, Golola was after a long period omitted from the technical team at Vipers after the sacking of Da Costa despite having led the team to win the 2017/18 league title. The Portuguese moved to Botswana joining Jwaneng Galaxy FC, while Golola joined FUFA Big League outfit Kitara FC in December last year.

However, his stay in Hoima lasted only a month and he was back at St. Mary’s stadium when Martinez Espinoza was relieved of his duties. He worked as assistant to Michael Nam Ouma until the end of last season

At the start of this season, Golala was confirmed as the head coach with Richard Wasswa, another familiar figure at the club coming on board as his assistant.

David Isabirye | Kawowo Sports Vipers SC President Lawrence Mulindwa unveiling Edward Golala as the new manager for the 2019-20 season

Trusting young players

When Golala took over from Chukuma, he promoted several players from the feeder side (school team). As earlier mentioned, Miya, Bukenya, Watenga, Alitho, Bilikwalira all became important in winning the 2014-15 league title.

Joel Muyita | Kawowo Sports Keziron Kizito (L) and Farouk Miya (R) were very influential in guiding Vipers SC to success.

The soft-spoken tactician seems to be reading from the same script this season with young players promoted from the school team/ junior team given the opportunity to play. The biggest revelation has been Abdu Karim Watambala. From guiding St. Mary’s Kitende to winning the national post-primary championship and the East Africa Secondary School title, he has been drafted to the team and he has looked comfortable so far.

Bobos Byaruhanga, Brian Kalumba, and Aziz Kayondo also from the school side were part of Vipers SC last season and have developed into better players commanding slots in the starting team.

Joel Muyita | Kawowo Sports Creative midfielder Abdu Karim Watambala has been a revelation for Vipers SC this season

Ashraf ‘Fadiga Mugume who was on loan at Police FC last season and Frank ‘Zaga’ Tumwesigye who was at Express FC have returned to fight for numbers. Goalkeeper Derrick Ochan, made the breakthrough last season while Jacob Okao, Ahmed Amayo, Denis Kiggundu, Mutwalib Magolofa, and Najib Yiga are still in school but were promoted to the senior team.

Perfect Start

In 2014, Vipers SC showed intentions to win the league, this was clear from the onset and were able to make a nearly perfect start. Despite not being convincing, they managed to grind out results to keep the momentum and when the chemistry came, Vipers SC was simply cruising. They won the first three games with an identical score of 1-0 against Simba FC, Entebbe FC and Lweza and went unbeaten the entire first round. Actually, the run was stopped by KJT Rweshama on matchday 21 and that was the only loss the Venoms suffered in the league that season.

Joel Muyita | Kawowo Sports Vipers SC team that won the 2014-15 league title

Since the time Uganda Premier League changed the format to have 16 teams during the 2011-12 season, Vipers SC has accumulated the highest points (69) and this was during the 2014-15 campaign. That clearly shows how lethal they were.

Below is a look at the champions since 2012 and the points they collected.

  • 2011-12 – Express FC – 54 points
  • 2012-13- KCCA FC – 63 points
  • 2013-14- KCCA FC – 60 points
  • 2014-15- Vipers SC -69 points
  • 2015-16- KCCA FC – 57 points
  • 2016-17- KCCA FC – 66 points
  • 2017-18- Vipers SC – 65 points
  • 2018-19- KCCA FC – 66 points

This season, Vipers SC remain the only unbeaten side in the league. After 12 games, the Venoms have garnered 30 points out of the possible 36, dropping just six in the draws against SC Villa, Mbarara City FC and Onduparaka FC.

I could only tress only for Vipers SC past games up to 2010 but if I’m not mistaken, the 2014-15 is the best start for the Venoms after 12 games where the team collected 30 points and this has been equaled this year.

John Batanudde | Kawowo Sports Vipers SC current team that is still unbeaten

Let’s look at the last ten seasons for Vipers SC and how they performed after 12 games

2010-11 season

  • Played – 12
  • Points – 22
  • Won – 7
  • Drawn – 1
  • Lost – 4
  • Goals for – 11
  • Goals against – 11
  • Clean sheets – 6

2011-12 season

  • Played – 12
  • Points – 20
  • Wins – 5
  • Draws – 5
  • Losses – 2
  • Goals for – 13
  • Goals against – 10
  • Clean sheets – 5

NB: Fire Masters was expelled, so we considered matchday 13 to make the 12 games

2012-13 season

  • Played – 12
  • Points – 24
  • Wins – 7
  • Draws – 3
  • Losses – 2
  • Goals for – 18
  • Goals against – 8
  • Clean sheets – 7

2013-14 season

  • Played -12
  • Points – 20
  • Wins – 6
  • Draws – 4
  • Losses – 2
  • Goals for – 16
  • Goals against – 8
  • Clean sheets – 6

2014-15 season

  • Played -12
  • Points – 30
  • Wins – 9
  • Draws -3
  • Losses – 0
  • Goals for – 18
  • Goals against – 8
  • Clean sheets – 7

2015-16 season

  • Played – 12
  • Points – 24
  • Wins – 7
  • Draws – 3
  • Losses – 2
  • Goals for – 17
  • Goals against – 11
  • Clean sheets – 6

2016-17 season

  • Played – 12
  • Points – 17
  • Wins – 4
  • Draws – 5
  • Losses – 3
  • Goals for – 13
  • Goals against – 9
  • Clean sheets – 5

2017-18 season

  • Played -12
  • Points – 20
  • Wins – 5
  • Draws – 5
  • Losses -2
  • Goals for – 12
  • Goals against – 8
  • Clean sheets – 7

2018-19 season

  • Played – 12
  • Points – 26
  • Wins – 7
  • Draws – 5
  • Losses – 0
  • Goals for – 15
  • Goals against – 8
  • Clean sheets – 5

2019-20 season

  • Played – 12
  • Points – 30
  • Wins – 9
  • Draws – 3
  • Losses – 0
  • Goals for – 19
  • Goals against – 6
  • Clean sheets – 7

Different match winners

Whereas Fahad Bayo has been a stand out performer for Vipers SC this season scoring 8 goals so far and currently leads the scoring charts, the fact is that the Venoms have many match winners.

John Batanudde | Kawowo Sports Dan Sserunkuma and Fahad Bayo celebrate a goal at Mandela National Stadium.

Vipers SC has had 11 different players appear on the score sheet this season, more than any other team in the league.

  • Fahad Bayo -8
  • Dan Sserunkuma -2
  • Brian Nkuubi – 1
  • Abraham Ndugwa -1
  • Brian Kalumba – 1
  • Allan Kayiwa – 1
  • Bobos Byaruhanga -1
  • Halid Lwaliwa -1
  • Frank Tumwesigye -1
  • Paul Willa -1
  • Abdu Karim Watambala -1

Bobos Byaruhanga scored a stoppage-time winner against Busoga United FC, Frank Tumwesigye and Allan Kayiwa guided Vipers SC past BUL FC while Abraham Ndugwa, Brian Nkuubi and Dan Sserunkuma helped the team to rally from a goal down against Bright Stars in the season opener. Against Police FC, Vipers SC also had to come from a goal down.

John Batanudde | Kawowo Sports Frank Tumwesigye, Bobosi Byaruhanga and Bashir Asiku celebrating a goal at St.Mary’s stadium

It was almost the case back in 2014. The opening three games for Vipers SC had different goal scorers. Joseph Mpande scored a stoppage-time goal against Simba, Keziron Kizito’s goal was enough to see off Entebbe FC while Miya scored his first goal at Vipers SC against Lweza FC and this came in the 87th minute converting from the spot after Daniel Oyirwoth who had come on as a substitute was fouled in the box.

In the next games, Mike Mutyaba, Saddam Juma, Vincent Kayizzi, Ismael Kazibwe, Musa Malunda, and Allan Kyambadde had at least a goal for the Venoms.

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