Lawrence Mulindwa’s belief in the wisdom of his directing hand has proved extraordinarily durable. The Vipers SC founder and patron continued to build the Venoms with an iron grip this past week by handing the coaching reins to Javier Martinez Espinosa. This came barely weeks after signing off the dismissal of Jorge Miguel da Costa Duarte.
The reaction to cutting the enigmatic Portuguese tactician loose was almost uniformly of disbelief if anything because winning a league title had staked da Costa’s pressing claim to relevance.
But if securing Caf Champions League football had made the Portuguese’s presence at St Mary’s Stadium a necessity rather than a choice, Mulindwa wanted no part of it. The pair’s relationship disintegrated with catastrophic results, paving the way for Espinosa’s appointment. Mulindwa told local media that he did not act against his better judgment by firing da Costa and hiring Espinosa. The pull for change was irresistible, apparently.
Interestingly, rather than dismiss such a line of thought as a sleight of hand, not much criticism has been aimed at Mulindwa. For now Espinosa is being given the benefit of the doubt, his journeyman outlook notwithstanding.
Many thought the Mexican coach talked a good talk at his unveiling in Kitende, promising to use a high press to subjugate opponents both in Uganda and on the continent.
Espinosa’s intelligence, liveliness and charm were not just apparent but telling. This must have been music to the ears of Mulindwa whose violent temperament instantly asserts itself at the slightest difference of opinion. For Edward Golola, though, it must have undoubtedly been an odd and striking thing to hear. Fans and the media alike reacted with consternation when the seasoned firefighter (in the Godfrey Nyola mould, remember Express fans?) was asked to take charge of the Venoms on interim basis after da Costa was sent on gardening leave.
Many opined that this was a job for which Golola is peculiarly ill-suited. It must have been a cruel disappointment for the man who can lay claim to winning last season’s title after taking charge and excelling in half a dozen matches when da Costa was serving a touchline ban.
The conclusion that Vipers would go into reverse if Golola was confirmed head coach speaks volumes about what we think of our indigenous coaches. Whatever advantage they gain is always quickly lost. This even after Mike Mutebi has showed – with show-stopping performances at KCCA – that just a little bit of trust would do just fine.
FORMER VIPERS COACHES
Charles Katumba Jan – April 2006
Charles Ayiekoh May – Dec 2006
Jackson Mayanja 2007 – 2008
Edward Golola 2009 – 2011
Ambrose Chukuma 2012 – 2013
Edward Golola (2nd stint) 2014 – 2015
George Nsimbe Jan – July 2016
Abdallah Mubiru July – Dec 2016
R. Wasswa (Caretaker) Jan – March 2017
Miguel Da Costa March 2017 – July 2018