Leonard Martins Neiva, popularly known as Leo Neiva, on the day he was unveilled at St Mary's Stadium, Kitende. Picture cedit: Vipers Media

The Brazilian wave continued at Vipers SC on Thursday after they announced a new head coach to replace Alex Isabirye, who resigned recently.

Leonard Martins Neiva, popularly known as Leo Neiva, has signed a two-year deal that will see him work at Kitende at least until 2025.

Leo Neiva poses for a picture inside the Vipers dressing room at Kitende. Picture credit: Vipers Media

“I am incredibly proud and excited to represent Vipers SC’s interests,” Neiva is quoted on the club website.

“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.”

Neiva’s arrival comes just weeks after two other Brazilians in new striker Giancarlo Lopez Rodriguez and midfielder Luiz Otavio Santos de Araujo signed with the Kitende side.

The 45-year-old is also the third Brazilian head coach in Vipers’ history after Beto Bianchi Pellister and Roberto Oliviera alias Robertinho.

Beto and Robertinho both won the StarTimes Uganda Premier League (SUPL) during their stints at Vipers.

Experience 

Neiva brings with him great experience having managed and excelled at top clubs in and out of Africa.

SC chairman George Mulindwa (L) unveils the club’s new Brazilian coach Leo Neiva.

His coaching journey has seen him manage club and national team football across the continents including North America, the Caribbean, South East Asia and Africa.

The Brazilian started his coaching career as an assistant at America CF in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2007.

He then made his first move to Africa at South Africa’s Platinum Stars as the club’s academy coach between 2008-2009.

Leo Neiva poses with a Vipers jersey after being unveilled at Kitende.

Neiva then returned to Brazil at Bonsucesso-RJ, before turning to the youth side of Yadanarborn FC, where he helped many youngsters to the Brazilian U20 team.

His first head coach role, then at 34, came at Rakhine United between 2011-2012 in the Myanmar National League before returning to Brazil at Associacao Atletica Francana the following year.

African journey

Having been to Africa some four-five years earlier, Neiva returned to the continent in 2014 and took over at Tanzania’s Young Africans SC as head coach.

He went on to win both the Tanzanian Super Cup and the 2014/15 Premier League but was lured away immediately by Jamaican side Montego Bay United, whom he also helped scoop the national championship with in 2016.

The period 2016-2017 saw Neiva work again at Yadanarborn and the now defunct Thai Honda FC.

In 2019, he 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.

The Caribbean 

In what was a historical feat for the nation, his side topped Group F in the first round of the CONCACAF Qualifiers of the 2022 World Cup ahead of favourites like Trinidad and Tobago.

Neiva added to his African CV in 2021 when he coached in Sudan at Al-Merrikh. 

He will now be looking to not only win the national championship with Vipers, but also take the team to at least the group stage of the Caf champions league.

Neiva fact file

Years Team

2007: América (Assistant)

2008-2009: Platinum Stars F.C (Youth)

2010: Bonsucesso

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

HONOURS

  • 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

QUALIFICATIONS

  • 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

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