Uganda Premier League champions Vipers Sports Club have appointed Brazilian native Leonard Martins Neiva, popularly known as Leo Neiva as the new head coach of the club taking over from Alex Isabirye, who resigned.
The Brazilian has penned down a two-year employment contract with the Venoms, that runs immediately and effectively ends in 2025.
Neiva comes in with an enviable well-detailed track record of having managed and excelled at top clubs; a reputation that is so much desired at the Home of Champions – St Mary’s Stadium, Kitende.
*Done it all
The 45-year-old has been in the dugout before as both a club and national team manager, across various continents including North America, the Caribbean, South East Asia and Africa.
Neiva kick-started his coaching career as an assistant coach at America CF in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2007.
That was before his first move to Africa at South Africa’s Platinum Stars as the club’s academy coach between 2008-2009.
He then returned to Brazil at Bonsucesso-RJ, before turning to the youth side of Yadanarborn FC, where he inspired many youngsters to make the Brazilian U-20 grade.
He was then made head coach of Rakhine United between 2011-2012, in the Myanmar National League, and at 34, he was the youngest coach there.
Neiva, in 2013, returned to Brazil at Associacao Atletica Francana, before moving to Tanzania’s Young Africans SC in 2014.
There, he won both the Tanzanian Super Cup and the 2014/15 Premier League but was lured away immediately by Jamaican side Montego Bay United, who he helped scoop the national championship in 2016.
In a short 2016-2017 spell, he worked again at Yadanarborn and the now defunct Thai Honda FC.
In 2019, Neiva made his way back to Brazil at Clube Atletico Itapemirim for just a season before handling the Saint Kitts and Nevis senior men’s national soccer team.
In a historical achievement for the nation, he topped Group F in the first round of the CONCACAF Qualifiers of the 2022 World Cup ahead of the fans favourite side Trinidad and Tobago plus other nations.
In 2021, he embraced two short stints at Sudan and CECAFA region heavyweights Al-Merrikh.
He comes in as the third Brazilian head coach in Vipers’ history after Beto Bianchi Pellister and Roberto Oliviera alias Robertinho.
The latter won both the StarTimes Uganda Premier League (SUPL) in 2021/22 and Uganda Cup in 2021.
*Eager to build culture
On making the move to St Mary’s Stadium, Neiva said: “I am incredibly proud and excited to represent Vipers SC’s interests. This is a fantastic club. I am very excited to be here and look forward to meeting and working with the exciting group of players and to develop a team and culture that our amazing fans can be proud of.”
2007:- América (Assistant)
2008-2009:- Platinum Stars F.C. (Youth)
2010-2011:- Yadanarbon F.C. (Youth)
2011/2012:- Rakhine United FC
2013:- Associação Atlética Francana
2014/2015:- Young Africans SC
2015/2016:- Montego Bay United
2016/2017:- Yadanarbon F.C.
2017:- Thai Honda F.C.
2019/2020:- Clube Atlético Itapemirim
2021:- Saint Kitts and Nevis
2021/2022:- Al-Merrikh SC
● Saint Kitts and Nevis National Team: Qualified for CONCACAF’s Second Round of World Cup Qualifiers 2022 for the first time ever
● National Championship – Jamaica 2016 Red Stripe Premier League 2015/2016 – Montego Bay FC
● National Championship – Tanzania 2015 Vodacom Premier League 2014/2015 – Young Africans SC
● Super Cup – Tanzania 2014 – Young Africans SC
● Nelson Mandela Cup – South Africa 2009 – Royal Bafokeng Platinum Stars FC
● CBF / CONMEBOL Pro License Course – 2018/2019
● CBF / CONMEBOL A License Course – 2017
● Member of the Coaches Union of the State of Rio de Janeiro (STFPRJ) – 2008
● A License Course of the Brazilian Football Coaches Association (ABTF) – 2007
● Post-Graduation: Fundação Getúlio Vargas (FGV) – MBA Sports Administration – 2004
● Graduation: Universidade Castelo Branco – Physical Education – 2002
*Credit: Vipers SC media.