KCCA FC and Vipers SC go into their continental ties against Mamelodi Sundowns and Platinum Stars this weekend with slim advantages but great belief, reports JOHN VIANNEY NSIMBE.
Geoffrey Sserunkuma has been KCCA FC’s only goalscorer thus far in the Caf Champions League, wth a goal in each of their three games. So, if they are to stand a chance against Mamelodi Sundowns today at the Phillip Omondi stadium, Sserunkuma’s sharpness will have to be on.
Sserunkuma has scored eight goals in KCCA’s last seven games, an indication of the rich vein of form he is in. But none is more important than the smooth finish he executed against Sundowns in the 1-2 loss last week in Pretoria.
Like his early strike against Angola’s Primeiro de Agosto, Sserunkuma’s latest goal has given KCCA a sense of purpose.
“We are in a good position to launch our fight back to qualify for the lucrative group stages because of the goal Sserunkuma scored,” KCCA manager Mike Mutebi said.
Qualification to the next round-of-16 would bring KCCA $550,000 (Shs 1.98 billion). And what a big contribution from Sserunkuma it would be!
Cranes coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic concurs.
“Clearly, Sserunkuma just rolled back the years, to remind us of how clinical he is.”
Yet, even with Micho’s praise of Sserunkuma, the 33-year-old forward has never had an extended run in Cranes colours since his debut back in 2005. Even at the recent Africa Cup of Nations, he had a short cameo in the opening game against Ghana.
The reason that has been fronted for his limited involvement with Cranes, is that he is slow. But that has not been a factor during KCCA’s Caf engagements.
Mutebi said: “It is Sserunkuma’s reaction in the penalty area that counts. His movement is superb. And once the midfield is imaginative, Sserunkuma will bury the chances.”
How much Mutebi would want him to bury one more, and help KCCA edge Sundowns 1-0 on Saturday! It is all they need. And they look confident to get it.
KCCA assistant coach Badru Kaddu said the players believe they will qualify.
And with Sundowns looking dejected after the first leg, which was followed by a goalless draw with Polokwane City in the South African Premier Soccer League (PSL) on Tuesday, KCCA are ready to capitalize and put the defending champions under pressure from the onset.
In the Caf Confederations Cup, Vipers coach Miguel Duarte wants his team to face South Africa’s Platinum Stars with the same intensity they employed last weekend.
Duarte, whose side beat Stars 1-0, thanks to Milton Karisa’s strike, told the media on Thursday that a Vipers’ goal would unsettle the hosts. Retaining the ball for long would frustrate them, too. But that will depend of the team’s self-belief.
Vipers showed that in getting the required result against Volcan club de Moroni, defying the pressure that usually grips Ugandan teams away from home.
Duarte has worked on the players’ psyche. He reminds them that they are the best, and although the Stars fought from a goal down to knock out Amazulu 3-2 in the Nedbank Cup on Wednesday, they have been armed enough to stifle that possibility.