South African giants Mamelodi Sundowns arrived in Kigali on Saturday morning to begin preparations of their CAF Champions League campaign.
The 42-Brazilian delegation will face Rwandan champions Rayon Sports Fc in a two-legged fixture in the first round of the CAF Champions League campaign.
The first leg will be played on Wednesday at Amahoro Stadium, 18:00 before returning to Mzansi for the return leg scheduled for Sunday, March 18..
Sundowns jetted into the country, a few hours after they thrashed AmaZulu FC 3-1 in an Absa Premiership match at the King Zwelithini Stadium on Friday night.
As a result, the Brazilians extended their lead at the top of the league standings to seven points, while Usuthu remain 10th on the table.
On Wednesday, Jeremy Brockie, Aubrey Ngoma, Gaston Sirino and Siyabonga Zulu will all be making their official debuts in the CAF Champions League for the Brazilians.
“When he talks about wanting to win the Champions League again, it gives you a good buzz. I would really like to have a good shot at that,” was some of Brockie’s first words upon his arrival at the club (as quoted off Sundowns’ official website).
Despite the Brazilians challenging for the league title, progressing in the CAF Champions League remains one of their priorities at this point, with the Sundowns camp eager to relive their dream of lifting the prestigious trophy once again.
“I want to help the team win more trophies, I want to help the team win the Champions League for (the) second time,” Tiyani Mabunda was quoted saying on Sundowns’ official website last month.
Meanwhile, Rayon Sports Fc who edged Burundian side Lydia Ludic in the preliminary round registering a 2-1 aggregate win will face the Brazilians without suspended central defenfer Manzi Thierry who picked a second accumulative yellow card in their return leg against the Burundians.
With Karekezi Olivier who went AWOL, the blues have signed Belgian Ivan Minnaert as their temporary coach to handle their side in this transition period.
The winner of the first round will be placed into four groups of four teams each in both Champions League and Confederation Cup.
The loser will be drawn in a play-off round with eventual winners being placed into four groups of four teams in 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.
Mamelodi Sundowns 23-man team for Rayon Sports clash
Anele Calvin Ngcongca, Anthony Snoti Laffour, Aubrey Bingani Ngoma, Denis Onyango, George Lebese, Hlompho Alpheus Kekana, Jeremy Russell Brockie, Kennedy Mweene,Khama Biliat,Leandro Gaston Rodriguez,Motjeka Madisha, Oupa Matthews Manyisha, Percy Muzi Tau, Razak Brimah,Ricardo Nascimento,Sibusiso Vilakazi,Siyabonga Zulu, Tebogo Joseph Langerman, Thapelo James Morena, Thokozani Putu Sekotlong, Themba Zwane, Tiyane Samuel Mabunda and Wayne Earl Arendse.