First round; 1st leg
Rayon Sports Vs Mamelodi Sundowns
Rayon Sports are set for their crucial clash against Mamelodi Sundowns in the CAF Champions League first round, first leg on Wednesday at Amahoro National Stadium.
The Azam Rwanda Premier League defending champions edged Lydia Ludic of Burundi with a 2-1 aggregate win in the preliminary round.
Rayon Sports are leading the league table with 24 points after defeating Espoir FC 3-0 on Sunday at Kigali Stadium- a morale boosting result especially in the build-up to what is probably the biggest game in the club’s history.
After Sunday’s victory, new interim head coach Ivan Jacky Minnaert said his team will go into the first leg clash against the South African giants, who won the continental championship two years ago, with the aim of getting a good result in-front of the home fans.
“Mamelodi Sundowns are one of the best teams in Africa but we shall go into the game on Wednesday with one thing on mind, to to do something good in-front of our fans,” Minnaert said on Monday.
The 49-year-old Belgian revealed that, “We have watched some of the most recent matches, especially in the Champions League, and yes they are quite excellent going forward. We must have a good balance in our team to deal with whatever threat is thrown at us.”
Minnaert, who has five more matches to win a permanent contract, reserved key players in the league win against Espoir to ensure they are fresh for Wednesday’s crucial game. The second leg match will be played on March 18 in South Africa.
The rested players include; strikers Shassir Nahimana and Ismaila Diarra, who remained on the bench throughout while the likes of Olivier Niyonzima, Eric Rutanga and Kevin Muhire were, introduced in the second half.
On the down side, central defender Thierry Manzi is suspended for the first leg game, which means Gabriel Mugabo will partner with Faustin Usengimana at the heart of the back-line.
Winners of the first round will be placed into four groups of four teams. Losers will be drawn in a play-off round where winners are expected to be placed into four groups of four teams in Confederation Cup group stages.
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.
Last year, Rayon Sports lost 0-2 to Rivers United of Nigeria in playoff round in the CAF Confederation Cup..