Some of the details regarding Mamelodi Sundowns’ return to CAF commitments have been revealed, as a true challenge awaits them.
The Brazilians face AS Maniema Union of DR Congo on Sunday in the first leg of their Champions League play-off encounter.
According to insiders at the club, Downs are expected to jet out today (Friday), with their final destination Kinshasa instead of Lubumbashi, where they have been to several times when they’ve faced their other DRC giants – TP Mazembe.
It’s believed they will travel with 23 players, including three goalkeepers.
Kick-off for the clash away to Union is scheduled for 3pm SA time according to the Sundowns website and the return leg will be a Loftus Versfeld a week later.
The winner between the two sides will then go into the group stages of the Champions League, while the loser drops into the less lucrative – but still credible – Confederation Cup.
Downs are the 2016 winners of the premier club competition, but have failed to advance past the semi-finals since then.
In the previous edition of the interclub tournament, the Brazilians were beaten 3-1 on aggregate by Al Ahly, now coached by their former coach, Pitso Mosimane, and the Egyptians went on to win the Champions League after beating Kaizer Chiefs.
With Downs currently unbeaten in the domestic league and expected to comfortably defend their DStv Premiership trophy by winning a fifth successive title, campaigning on the continent will be viewed as a genuine test for their well-assembled squad.
They are expected to fly back immediately to then prepare for Golden Arrows in a league match on Wednesday, October 20.
Some of these players could be making their CL debut for Downs...