Rwandan league champions Rayon Sports flew to South Africa on Saturday morning ready for Sunday’sreturn-leg clash against Mamelodi Sundowns in the CAF Champions League first round.
The Blues left for Johannesburg today morning aboard Rwandair which will have a stop-over in Lusaka, Zambia. They will train tonight at Loftus Versfeld, venue of tomorrow’s clash.
Mamelodi Sundowns takes on Rayon Sports in the CAF Champions League at Loftus Versfeld on Sundaynight, with the match being broadcasted live on Supersport 4, kick-offing at 19:30.
The Blues head coach Ivan Minnaert is assured of a triumphant display as they seek to reach the group stage of the Africa’s biggest club football competition.
Both Rayon Sports Fc and Mamelodi Sundowns played to a goalless draw in the first leg held in Kigali on March 7 at Amahoro Stadium. Any scoring win or draw from the Rayon Sports Fc will see them advance to the lucrative group stage.
The reigning Azam Rwanda Premier League champions flew to South Africa without two key players Shassir Nahimana and Yassin Mugume, but they have been boosted with the return of centre-back defender Thierry Manzi who missed the first leg due to a suspension.
The Rayon Sports skipper Eric Ndayishimiye told KT Sports prior to departure, “We are ready and focused ahead of Sunday’s game. It’s still an open game and any side can win the tie. We are confident on achieving an excellent result which will see us through to the next stage.”
Head coach Minnaert told media mid this week, “We anticipate a tough game, and very tough on both sides. We have been learning their game with the help of the first-leg game video and did everything we can to prepare accordingly. We are ready for the mission in South Africa,” Minnaert said on Wednesday.
However, Pitso Mosimane’s men will fancy their chances on home soil, especially carrying winning momentum after their come-from-behind Nedbank Cup victory over EC Bees in what turned out to be a tricky encounter against a lower league opponent.
Anything less than a victory on Sunday will see their dream of reclaiming the title, currently held by Moroccan outfit, Wydad Casablanca, whom they lost to in the quarter-final of the last edition.
Mosimane believes his side will improve their performance for the return game at home in Tshwane on Sunday and has backed them to progress into the group stage.
“We will be playing the same way we played today and hopefully we take the chances,” the ‘Downs coach told Rwandan TV after the match.
When asked if the return leg would be easy, Mosimane replaied: “Easy? No, not easy, but I think we can win at home, yes, but not easy.”
The first round consists of 32 teams. The 16 winners of the first round advance to the group stage, while the 16 losers of the first round enter the Confederation Cup play-off round.
Rayon Sports 18-player squad:
Eric ‘Bakame’ Ndayishimiye, Cassim Ndayisenga, Bonfils Caleb Bimenyimana, Eric Irambona, Pierrot Kwizera, Thierry Manzi, Gabriel Mugabo, Francois Master Mugisha, Yannick Mukunzi, Ange Mutsinzi, Olivier Sefu Niyonzima, Saddam Nyandwi, Ismaila Diarra, Eric Rutanga, Christ Mbondi, Faustin Usengimana, Shaban Hussein and Kevin Muhire.
CAF Champions League
Mamelodi Sundowns v Rayon Sports (0-0) KO: 19h00
Plateau United v Etoile du Sahel (2-4) KO: 15h00
Esperance de Tunis v Gor Mahia (0-0) KO: 17h00
ASEC Mimosas v ZESCO United (1-0) KO: 18h00
Al Hilal Omdurman v Togo Port (0-2) KO: 19h30
ES Setif v Aduana Stars (0-1) KO: 20h00
AS Vita v Difaa El Jadida (0-1) KO: 15h30