Abraham Ndugwa scores twice as Vipers progress to the round of 16 of the Uganda Cup after a comfortable victory over Kansai Plascon.
PIC: Abraham Ndugwa hit a brace against Plascon on Tuesday. (Credit: Vipers SC)
STANBIC UGANDA CUP
By Joseph Kizza
KITENDE - Vipers SC did not let their recent indifferent home form get to their heads as they easily shook off FUFA Big League side Kansai Plascon in the Stanbic Uganda Cup round of 32 on Tuesday.
On paper, progression to the round of 16 was never in doubt for the Venoms even before they could kick a ball, and the manner in which they slithered to the next round provided a clear, bold and underlined statement to whichever opposition that will be coming their way.
It may not have been the sternest of tests for Vipers, who are last season's cup runners-up, but it was the kind of game they needed to buoy their confidence ahead of this weekend's tricky away tie against CS Sfaxien, after letting the Tunisian side take home a point in their goalless CAF Confederation Cup playoff round first leg encounter.
So Tuesday's game, undoubtedly considered a David vs Goliath affair, was timely.
It will help caretaker head coach Michael Ouma's side travel to Sfax with a reasonable scoop of belief that can move mountains, although in truth, it will be a tall order.
And here is why: Although Vipers have won the Uganda Premier League on three occasions and the Uganda Cup once, their continental cabinet remains empty. Yet, they are up against a side who are eight-time Tunisian league champions, have won the CAF Confederation Cup three times and the CAF Champions League once.
Sfaxien will definitely be a mouthful for Vipers - but then, football is one funny old game! The proverbial 'cupsets' are not uncommon.
But for now, the Venoms will relish a routine win over a Plascon side that had to beat Ndejje University in Luwero while their more illustrious eventual round of 32 opponents didn't even need to kick a ball, as they were gifted an effortless transition to the next stage after Rushekere Growers' no-show.
The gulf between the two sides showed early as the hosts sprang out of the blocks quicker, with Tito Okello failing to produce something from Innocent Wafula's whipped in delivery.
It did not take long for the jitters in the Plascon's back faculty to surface, as Desmond Kyobe turned the ball into his own net 16 minutes into the game. The unwanted effort came off Wafula's fierce goal-bound drive to give the home side the opener they needed to calm nerves that have already been tested several times this season.
In a dominant opening half, Vipers continued to prod, and their sustained inquest paid off with their second goal of the evening - 10 minutes after the first - through Halid Lwalilwa's poke past the visiting keeper.
Hardly 10 minutess into the second half, Vipers stung Plascon for a third, with Abraham Ndugwa applying the finish with a delicious curler. And the former Masavu FC skipper, who arrived at the Kitende-based club in July last year, completed his brace and the hosts' fourth to ease to a comfortable win.
Plascon may have opened their Uganda Cup campaign with victory over a premier league side in the form of Ndejje University, but another similar upset, this time against a proven winner, proved a task a tad beyond them to successfully negotiate.
While they turn their attention back to the Big League, Vipers,who are the defending premier league champions and are unbeaten so far this season, will direct their sights beyond the domestic realm.
Sunday's match against Sfaxien will decide who moves on the Confederation Cup group stage and who gets kicked out.
It will surely be a tough examination of Vipers' continental muscle, and if Ouma's side do manage to flex their way past a Tunisian giant, the club will have written its own history.
Another Ugandan side, KCCA FC, also have a Herculean task before them. Coach Mike Mutebi's side did not fly all the way to Congo Brazzaville to ship goals against AS Otoho - yet they did.
They will now have to conjure up a way to hit four goals past the Congo side without reply when the two sides meet for the return leg in Kampala this weekend to secure a place in the group phase.
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