- Saturday November 28, 2020
- St. Mary’s stadium, Kitende 4pm
- Preliminary Round – Caf Champions League
Fireworks is expected at St. Mary’s stadium, Kitende when hosts Vipers SC take on Sudan’s Al Hilal in the preliminary round of the Caf Champions League first leg.
The fixture will be Vipers’ first competitive games in over eight months since their 1-1 draw with Wakiso Giants in the league in March before sporting activities were suspended due to the COVID19 pandemic.
The Venoms face an uphill task against an experienced Al Hilal side that is a constant fixture in the group stages of the continental biggest football showpiece for the clubs.
But Fred Kajoba, whose only experience on the continent has come with the national team, the Uganda Cranes where he is the goalkeeping coach is confident of upstaging the two time African finalists.
“We know that they are an experienced side,” Kajoba told Vipers Media. “They have good players including Salim Jamal who is my goalkeeper on the National team (Uganda Cranes),” he added.
“But we as a club have our targets – that is reaching the group stages of the CAF Champions League. And I hope that we will fulfil that target, we as coaches, players and administration is aware that this is the right time for us to make a good run in this competition.
“Everyone is aware that we have to win the Saturday game so that we leave for Khartoum with an advantage and enough goals to qualify.”
His captain Halid Lwaliwa also believes that playing for the Uganda Cranes in the recent Afcon qualifiers against South Sudan gave him and teammates like Abdul Karim Watambala an insight into what continental football and is looking forward to the game.
“We want to get to the group stages this time round, and we are quite ready for whatever challenge comes our way,” Lwaliwa said ahead of the Saturday clash.
“The morale in camp is too high,” he said before adding; “We have prepared very well with the coaches and everyone is ready and confident for the game.”
“This is a bigger stage than at where we play in the local league.
“So, for us to be playing at the national team boosts us, it has prepared us to handle the pressure that comes with a game of such magnitude.”
Like Kajoba, Lwaliwa is also aware of the champions league experience their opponents hold.
“Al Hilal have been in the CAF Champions’ League group stages in the last couple of seasons but they are the ones in our way now.
“Of course, we give them much respect but we are ready to face them because we have our own ambitions.”
The game will be played in an empty stadium due to the covid-19 restrictions but Al Hilal assistant Coach Fathi Bashir says his team have no problem.
“Supporters are the sword of the game but with the presence of COVID19, big teams can still find a way of playing without them,” Basha told Football256.
“The fans give the players more power on the pitch of play and with them absent, we have tried to prepare the player to play without fans.
“We only have to continue praying for the situation to improve so that we can reunite with our fans but as of now we have to play in order to make them proud wherever they’re watching us from.
Vipers will be playing at this stage of the Caf Champions League for the fourth time in history.
They have only lost once at home (2-0 vs CS Constantine) on the past four occasions; winning twice (1-0 Vs El Merriekh and Enyimba) and drawing goalless against Volcano Di Moroni.
The Venoms have no injury worries and could unleash Muhammad Shaban who has been side-lined since September last year.
Kajoba could also hand debuts to midfielders David Bagoole, Ibrahim Oriti and Jamil Kaliisa as well as Congolese import Mazonki.