Reigning StarTimes Uganda Premier League Champions Express FC welcome one of the early pace setters Vipers SC at the Betway Muteesa II Stadium in one of the standout games of the season on Saturday afternoon.
Vipers are second on the log, on six points from two games – three points behind leaders KCCA FC who have played a game more – while Express are 13th, after picking up only three points from their opening three games of the 2021/22 season.
Obviously, there is not so much to read from in terms of league standings this early in the season, but there is no hiding that Vipers are the early favourites to reclaim the title they last won in 2020.
The Venoms have been incredibly impressive so far after defeating Police FC 2-0 in their opening game before thumping Wakiso Giants 5-0 on Friday last week.
They are actually on a four-game winning streak under Brazilian Roberto Oliviera, a run that has also seen them concede only one goal. In addition to their two league wins, Vipers defeated Police FC and white washed BUL Bidco enroute their Uganda Cup victory in September.
Meanwhile, Express will be looking at reminding their rivals of their credentials on Saturday, and also remind the rest of the field that their title defence is still alive, and victory over one of the four teams expected to challenge for the title will be a concise message.
It has been a startling start to their title defence, with the Red Eagles winning only one of their opening three games of the season and suffering back to back defeats against Arua Hill and UPDF FC in their opening two games of the season.
Administrative bickerings have not helped the situation, with coach Wasswa Bbosa currently serving a three game suspension for improper conduct.
The season is not yet at the stage where the panic button needs to be pressed, but Express already have a handicap in the race and they surely need to close that gap and restore sanity before everything evaporates.
“We had a bad start in the league,” forward Charles Musiige said of his side’s early season performance, adding; “Losing two straight games was hard but sometimes you need such situations to get back to your feet.”
“The win away to BUL FC was key, tomorrow we play Vipers a good side and on form but we want to keep our momentum going so we must win,” he added.
Bbosa will sit out the last of his three match suspension, ut the big news revolve around the return of talisman Eric Kambale who missed their defeat to UPDF.
Express as also lost midfielder Muzamir Mutyaba who completed his move to Rwandese top divison club Kiyovu FC.
Captain Enock Walusimbi and Godfrey Lwesibawa remain side-lined with hip and knee injuries respectively.
Vipers do not have any significant injuries reported, and welcomed back captain Halid Lwaliwa for their previous game and could get his first minutes at Wankulukuku.
Once again, Robertinho will rely on the deadly forward combo between Yunus Ssentamu – who bagged four goals in their victory over Wakiso – and Ceaser Manzoki.
Express won the last meeting between these two sides in April 2021, through John Byamukama’s splendid strike, but the subsequent meeting between the two saw a 1-1 stalemate.
This will be the 24th meeting between both sides. The Red Eagles have managed four wins while Vipers have picked up 10 wins with 9 draws between the two sides.