Vipers SC were held to a one-all stalemate by African giants Raja Casablanca in the CAF Champions League return leg at St Mary’s Stadium, Kitende.
Under the floodlights, with Vipers’ fans, especially the school stand, marching the vociferous North Africans pound for pound for the entire evening, Vipers showed some previously missing venom with everyone pulling in the right direction.
After dominating the early period, fate befell Vipers against the run of play. It was Raja Casablanca’s Sofianne Benjdida who calmly slotted home in the 18th minute from a literally nothing situation.
Vipers, though, were going to be bogged down on the night. They refused to push the panic button, like during the first leg in Morocco and instead restructured, followed the process by holding onto the ball more.
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The reward came before the breather, in the added minutes as the first half climaxed, when Nigerian forward Abubakar Lawal coolly slotted home an industrious cross from Isa Mubiru – the last piece of action for both teams before heading back to their dressings for halftime.
They never had to bury their hands in the sand but the trio of Martin Kizza, Bright Anukani and Olivier Osomba know they could have done better on a night that truly belonged to Vipers.
They orchestrated bold plays and were ambitious going forward. And at regular intervals, each of them had a more-than-decent opportunity to give Vipers the lead by ‘Lady Luck’ momentarily stayed away.
With the clock ticking very fast, the final and most glorious chance of the clash fell to hard-working forward Yunus Sentamu.
He struck with ultimate precision to the bottom left corner and as the crowd got onto its feet to see the back of the net shake, Raja Casablanca goalkeeper Marouane Fakhr somewhat got a hand to it and miraculously denied the Venoms what could have been a massive victory.
The Venoms cannot progress to the next round as they lie fourth with two points, with just a game to play (against Horoya AC), but will without doubt be proud of their performance on the evening.