Vipers celebrate Credit: John Batanudde

After missing out on the title last season, Vipers finally got their hands on the title this season with a fifth league trophy with four games to spare.

Below, Ismael Kiyonga examines why the rampant Venoms were able to blow away competition this season.

Early preparations

Vipers Sports Club players go through the paces during the last training session (Credit: Vipers SC Media)

Unlike most teams, Vipers started preparations immediately after the pre-mature end to last season.

The club supremo announced a new coach in Brazilian Roberto Oliviera who got to know his players well during the time they were preparing for the delayed Stanbic Uganda Cup and they never stopped.

Shrewd transfer plan

Truth is Vipers have spent big money to build this squad but they did spend wisely in the last two transfer windows adding only necessary pieces unlike before.

Bright Anukani being unveiled at Vipers Sports Club

That’s surely a rare combination at Kitende in recent years as they have always spent unnecessarily at times.

In the primary window, they only brought in Bright Anukani who has done incredibly well after underperforming at KCCA the season before.

Hilary Mukundane has immensely contributed to Vipers since joining in January Credit: David Isabirye

Even Hilary Mukundane, a January acquisition who then stood out as the most unnecessary piece of transfer expenditure, has had his moments since joining the club.

Karisa, Manzoki making the leap

Whereas Yunus Sentamu returned to Kitende and immediately set the Premier League alight, Karisa and Manzoki’s rise to superstardom has been a little more gradual; the raw numbers weren’t there right away, even if the underlying ones always were.

Karisa and Manzoki Credit: John Batanudde

But make no mistake; both are well and truly established in that elite bracket now.

The two have combined well with Sentamu to make the most deadly trio in the division with the Congolese turned CAR forward so far notching 16 goals and a couple of assists while Karisa boosts arguably the most league assists with over 10 and also chipped in with seven goals so far.

Manzoki and Karisa have ensured Vipers have two more supreme scoring options at all times besides Sentamu, making them nearly impossible to stop.

Mulondo- Lwaliwa locking things down

Vipers’ players Livistone Mulondo and Halid Lwaliwa celebrate Credit: John Batanudde

This one’s pretty simple, really: Having the best central defensive partnership in the league makes life easier on everyone.

Since returning from injury, Mulondo has transformed the Venoms’ defense with his aerial prowess; never say die attitude and top discipline alongside his skipper and not many forwards want to play against them.

Unselfishness up front

It feels like a long time ago that Sentamu was accused of causing a rift with Manzoki and Karisa because of his selfishness on the field – and that’s not just because everything feels like it happened ages ago nowadays. Every good forward is selfish, to some degree, when they have the ball.

Ibrahim Orit, Yunus Sentamu and Paul Mucureezi celebrate the opening goal (Credit: John Batanudde)

But Vipers have engineered a system that keeps everyone happy. Much of that comes down to the selfless work of Karisa, who has long sacrificed his own personal scoring numbers to help facilitate chances for others just like Sentamu and Manzoki do for each other as well.

KCCA, URA and Express FC hitting the wall

Vipers’ superlative season deserves all the plaudits, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge the fact that their dominance was made all the starker by their competitors’ surprising face-plant.

Vipers XI Vs Soltilo Bright Stars Credit: John Batanudde

Last season’s champions Express has already lost five matches this season; it lost two in winning the title last year.

A variety of factors conspired to halt Express’ progress, including bickering between CEO Isaac Mwesigwa and then coach Wasswa Bbosa.

For KCCA, they started well but later went off the boil and this can be attributed to their poor recruitment in the window, injuries to key players – Gift Ali, Geoffrey Wasswa and Patrick Kaddu among others while Sadat Anaku and Charles Lwanga have also been in and out of hospital.

Dejected KCCA players

The Kasasiro could also rue bad luck in some decisions against them in games against Onduparaka and URA which were the turning points in losing the lead they held on in the first two months.

For URA, their consistency problem chipped in then and unlike previous campaigns, they were not even good against fellow giants.

That side, the greatest factor, though, was Vipers being an unflappable machine. Neither competitors could keep up, as evidenced by the enormous points gap.

Resilience and Persistence

Vipers players celebrate one of their many goals this season Credit: John Batanudde

This season, there’s a resiliency baked into the fibre of the Vipers squad. The Venoms just keep coming, and it’s exhausting to play against. Opposing teams can only try and hang on for so long; at some point, many of them break.

Combined with the sheer quality of the players, that unrelenting nature has helped turn the team into a juggernaut.

An easy-going Brazilian

From the look of things, humanity can surely be attributed in large part to Roberto Oliviera, whose infectious personality has fostered a harmonious atmosphere at Kitende.

Yunus Sentamu is congragulated by Vipers’ head coach Robert Oliveria

The one capped ex-Brazilian international clearly cares about his players as people, which isn’t something you can say about every manager.

Of course, he backs that up with a tactical understanding and ethos and much of that is the result of the success that Vipers’ affable bench boss has enjoyed.

Senior Staff writer at Kawowo Sports mainly covering football

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