Goalkeeper Fabien Mutombora’s last gasp save foiled Al-Hilal’s attempts to leave the St. Mary’s stadium in Kitende with a 2-0 first leg lead over Vipers SC. During added time, Al-Hilal broke away, and with attacker Omer Ahamed faced with an advancing Mutombora, attempted a lob, which was tipped over by the Vipers custodian.
This was the last bit of action from the game, that ended 1-0 in favour of the visitors. Yet, considering how close it was, with more goal-scoring chances falling to Vipers, coach Fred Kajoba noted that it would be shocking if his players did not believe they can still knock out Al-Hilal.
Although Kajoba was disappointed they had not won the game, following his charges’ failure to score a single goal on home turf, he picked up positives from their performance.
“We did not play badly. But when you do not score, you do not win. But we had the chances to win the game. Now we must keep working on that, to see that we improve for the second leg and score some goals,” Kajoba said.
With a 2-1 victory in Sudan next weekend, Vipers can still progress to the first round of the Caf Champions League. And aside from the first half, where they were disjointed and tentative in application, they looked a different side in the second half, playing with a lot more temple, energy and courage.
In fact, it was a result of the renewed vigour, partly attributed to the introduction of wingers Ibrahim Orit and Paul Mucureezi, that created some good chances for Vipers. Actually Orit, Congolese forward Lobi Manzoki and Daniel Sserunkuma were guilty of missing real sitters.
All that was lacking was concentration and composure in the opponent’s penalty box. Maybe, the Vipers players need to learn from Al-Hilal’s midfielder Hamid Bakhet for the manner in which he scored after 26 minutes. Mutombora failed to get off his goal-line for a ball he ought to have punched away.
And once the ball kept bubbling in his box, it was advantage for the visitors, who rebounded the ball in a fine volley to the left of the goalkeeper. On top of that, the midfield and attack failed to combine, making it impossible to trouble the Al-Hilal defence.
Now, Vipers have it all to do for the second leg, where the fighting spirit must be top notch. They face a side that play with discipline and tactical organization. And for a team and coach, whose target this season is to ensure that they qualify for the group stages of the Caf Champions League at the bear minimum, they have their work cut out.