Uganda’s representatives in TotalEnergies CAF Champions League Vipers FC host TP Mazembe in the second preliminary round league qualifiers. The Venoms face five-time champions from the Democratic Republic in Congo in the first leg of the two-game series at St. Mary’s stadium in Kitende later today after playing a goalless draw against Bright stars in the domestic league opening tie. This triggered panic that perhaps Vipers is not fit for the continental showpiece.
However, this is a do-or-die battle as the two teams compete for a spot in the lucrative Champions League group stages. Despite having an outstanding performance in the first preliminary round, Vipers have never achieved in their history while TP Mazembe has done so lightly. Vipers Uganda Premier League match against Wakiso Giants was canceled to provide the team extra time to prepare for the continental engagement.
The team conducted their last training on Saturday. Team captain Milton Karisa says their main target as a club is to use their home advantage and secure maximum points before the return leg that will take place in the Democratic Republic of Congo-DRC. “It’s one of the biggest games in Vipers SC history, and we are ready for the big challenge ahead of us. We want to get good results in the first leg and that is a win, to make it an easier game in the second leg in Lubumbashi,” he said.
He believes that having taken part in the qualifier, his side is much stronger than their opponent. “We are a much stronger team than our opponents if we put in the commitment and believe in ourselves that we must win the game,” Karisa said
Vipers SC Head coach Roberto Oliviera doesn’t underlook the fact that they are playing a big team with a better reputation than theirs on the continental level. He is, however, confident that his team is up to the task.
To qualify for this stage, Vipers put in an outstanding performance to eliminate central African Republic’s Olympic Real De Bangui in the preliminary round with a 4-0 goal aggregate while TP Mazembe was given a bye in the preliminary round courtesy of its rankings The venoms are bidding to become the second club from Uganda to qualify for the CAF Champions League group stages after Kampala Capital City Authority- KCCA FC in 2018. But if the Venoms fail the Mazembe hurdle, they will drop to the CAF Confederation Cup playoff round.URN