Rwandan champions Rayon Sports progressed to the first round of the CAF Champions League after edging Burundian side Lydia Ludic Academic in the return leg of the preliminary round played on Wednesday at Prince Louis Rwagasore in Bujumbura.
Burundian import Hussein ‘Tchabalala’ Shaban who scored in the first leg’s 1-all draw was on target again as he scored the all-important goal for the Blues in the 28th minute to earn a crucial victory for Rayon Sports Fc.
The lone away goal secured helped Rayon Sports to progress to the first round thanks to a 2-1 goal aggregate. The Blues will face South African giants and 2016 CAF Champions League winner, Masandawana in the first leg scheduled for March 6-7 in Kigali while the return leg will be staged in South Africa in the weekend of 16-18, 2018.
Rayon Sports head coach, Olivier Karekezi said after the game, “We are happy for this vital qualification. LLB did our work easy, they were not defensive like in the first leg and this helped us to create chances and though we couldn’t convert many of the chnaces created, we managed to secure a goal thanks to Tchabalala.”
“I must congratulate pur players for the good performance and hail our fans who came all the way from Kigali to support us,” added Karekezi.
Mamelodi Sundowns were given a bye into the first round of the CAF Champions League competition.
The Brazilians ended off their previous CAF Champions League campaign with an exit from the quarter-final stages of the competition this year, this coming quickly after being crowned the champions of the continent in 2016.
Now, Masandawana will look to regroup and challenge once again in the competition but must have to negotiate a tough boundary against Rayon Sports fc of Rwanda.
Al Ahly, Wydad Athletic Club, TP Mazembe and Etoile du Sahel are the other clubs who will begin their quest for the 2018 CAF Champions League from the first round.
The winner of the first round will drawn in a play-off round with eventual winners being placed into four groups of four teams each in both Champions League and Confederation Cup.
After a round-robin of matches (home and away), the top two in each group will qualify for the quarter-finals, which opens a new phase of knockout matches till the final.
In the CAF Champions League, the winner will pocket US$2.5 million, first runner-up $1.25m, while the semi-finalists will bag $875,000 and quarter-finalists $650,000. Clubs which will finish third and fourth, will each get $550,000.