Saturday, August 26
•Vipers 2-1 Jwaneng Galaxy
(Jwaneng win 3-2 on aggregate)
Vipers’ chances of returning to CAF Champions League groups ended on the first hurdle despite a 2-1 win over Botswana’s Jwaneng Galaxy in the return leg at St Mary’s Stadium in Kitende.
Having lost 2-0 in the first leg, Vipers needed to score three unanswered goals to go through as a 2-0 win would necessitate direct shootouts.
They got the latter before halftime, but conceded a late freekick in the 90th minute to lose 3-2 on aggregate to suffer early elimination.
Yunus Sentamu scored a brace before halftime to draw the tie level.
Sentamu’s goals were both beauties – The first, he was put through by Bright Anukani before powering in with a left foot at half-hour mark.
His second was a loop from outside the box that caught the goalkeeper off his line just at the stroke of halftime.
But Vipers put the foot off the pedal in the second half, and their patient build up failed to bore fruits in the second half.
And with the game heading to penalties, Jwaneng struck through Gilberto Baruti’s freekick in the 90th minute to silence a sizeable crowd under floodlights!
The Venoms lose the match 3-2 on aggregate, a result that ends their journey on the continent.
Jwaneng Galaxy progress to the next stage where they will meet Soutj African giants Orlando Pirates for a place in the group stages.
Continental Dreams Go Up In Flames
Vipers made their debut in the CAF Champions League group stages last season.
Despite finishing bottom of the group that had Raja Casablanca, Simba and Horoya, they hoped to do better this season.
Vipers want to become a continental powerhouse, and the only to achieve that is to make Champions League groups a habit for starters.
A new Brazilian coach in Leo Neiva was brought in after the club shockingly parted ways with Alex Isabirye.
A couple of marquee signings were brought in, and the refurbishment of the stadium to fit CAF standards, were all indicators that Vipers have all focus on CAF Champions League groups.
The 2-0 defeat in the first leg in Botswana presented a huge mountain to climb for Vipers.
Come match-day on Saturday, Vipers were aware of the task at hand, and knew that an early goal would do the magic.
There were some changes in the team that started, including Fabien Mutombora in goal while Murushid Juuko was in defence for his first game after missing out for months.
The Venoms, backed up by a big crowd, started off like a house on fire. And they were greatly helped by Jwaneng who not only sat back but also went for annoying time wasting tactics.
Mohamed Salem Ekbad headed direct into the keeper’s hands after Yunus Sentamu’s bicycle kick, Abubakar Lawal shot wide while Sentamu was twice denied by the keeper before he later got the opener in the 30th minute.
Sentamu got the second just before the break with a nice lob that got the better of the goalkeeper to send the crowd into wold celebrations.
Understandably, Vipers came in the second half with lesser energy and patient on offense.
Bright Anukani fired over, Milton Karisa headed wide while Karim Watambala’s rocket also couldn’t find the target as Vipers’ search for a crucial third failed.
Defender Murushid Juuko was taken off for midfielder Nzau Lutumba as Vipers desperately looked for a third, but in vain.
And that was going to haunt Vipers at one point. The turning point came late, in the 90th minute to be exact, when Isa Mubiru’s foul handed Jwaneng a good freekick which Baruti placed far away from Mutombora’s reach to silence what had been a raucous Kitende since kickoff.
Eight minutes were added on, and at that point, Vipers needed two more goals to go through.
With about three minutes into injury time, Vipers president Lawrence Mulindwa who was seated at the opposite end, stormed away before full-time. And no one can tell what next for someone who has built a reputation of sacking everytime he pleases.