StarTimes Uganda Premier League Champions Vipers will get their chase for a maiden appearance in the group stages of the CAF Champions League underway when they host Sudanese giants Al Hilal Omdurman at the St. Mary’s Stadium, Kitende.
Vipers captain Halid Lwaliwa is singing from the same hymn book as his coach Fred Kajoba who has set reaching the Champions League group stages as the ultimate target.
“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 Venoms have not gone past the first-round qualifiers in each of their last two attempts in the competition.
Lwaliwa states that it is their previous failed attempts should act as motivation for the squad to give their best effort.
“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.”
Lwaliwa recently got his debut for the Uganda Cranes and got onto the scoresheet, scoring the winner in the Cranes’ 1-0 victory over South Sudan in the AFCON qualifiers at St. Mary’s two weeks ago.
He was among three Vipers players including youngster AbdulKarim Watambala and new signing Disan Galiwango who got minutes.
Lwaliwa argues that the experience they picked with the national team will also come in handy on ‘the bigger stage’.
“This is a bigger stage than at where we play in the local league,” Lwaliwa noted.
“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,” he added.
Vipers opponents Al Hilal will bank on their record in the competition, they reached the group stages last season, they also boast of three semi-final appearances since 2009 (2009, 2011 and 2015).
Lwaliwa and Vipers have nothing but respect for Hilal – home to Uganda Cranes goalkeeper Salim Jamal, but they will stop at nothing to achieve their ambitions.
“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,” he noted.
This will be the first meeting between the two sides, Vipers eliminated Hilal rivals El Merriekh on away goals rule after a 2-2 draw over both legs at this stage in the 2018/19 season.
Vipers will also back on the fact that they are have lost only once at home in either the Champions League or Confederations Cup qualifiers (3W, 1D, 1L).