The Uganda Premier League giants Vipers Sports Club is set to appear in the Caf Champions League group stage for the first time.
The Venoms face Morocco’s Raja Casablanca on Friday in the group C opener at the Mohammed V Stadium in Casablanca. Guinea’s Horoya and Simba of Tanzania are the other teams in the group.
This is not the crowning moment but the start of one of the most important phases in the club’s history.
To get here, Vipers SC beat five-time champions TP Mazembe in a two-legged affair that went as far as a nervous post-match penalty shootout.
That resilience will be plenty over the next six matches.
“I think in the opposite way, my players are well. It is an award for us in this game. This is a very important stage in the CAF Champions League and we all are conscientious about this.”
“I told my players to just try to use the moment and the challenge ahead of us as an opportunity and take it and encourage everybody around to have the same mentality & the same energy.”
“We have done a lot of work but we need everybody together and the spirit to be fair around here, the togetherness that we have around the team, it’s really strong, but we need to give our fans and probably the outside world something to talk about, and that’s only given with results, so we need to get that result,” Vipers SC head coach Beto Bianchi said.
The stadium in Casablanca will be empty following fan violence.
Acts of violence during the match of Raja of Casablanca against Al Ahly in last season’s quarterfinals led to heavy consequences for the hosts.
This is the first of two games to be played behind closed doors plus a fine of $24,000 (Shs88m) fine for the use of smoke, lasers and throwing bottles, as well as another $20,000 (Shs74m) for failing to provide necessary security measures.