RWANDA champions Rayon Sports will have their hands full when they take on South African giants Mamelodi Sundowns in their second leg of the CAF Champions League first round on Sunday.
The 2016 African champions, also dubbed ‘The Brazilians’, will host Ivan Minnaert’s Rayon Sports at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria, looking to progress to the group stage of the continent’s premier club competition after they were held to a goalless draw by their opponents in at Amahoro National Stadium in Kigali on March 7.
Rayon progressed to the first round after ousting Burundi’s Lydia Ludic Academic FC in the preliminary round with a 2-1 aggregate win, thanks an away 1-0 victory in the second leg in Bujumbura, following a 1-all draw in the first leg in Kigali.
Can the 8-time Rwanda champions repeat what they did away to Lydia Ludic and pull off a shock win in Pretoria?
Mamelodi Sundowns is a huge stumbling block.
As Rayon Sports prepare for their biggest match yet, Times Sport reporter Richard Bishumba looks at Mamelodi Sundowns’ five key players, who could decide Sunday’s tie.
1. Jeremy Brockie
The New Zealand international was arguably the signing of the January transfer window on the African continent, but while he is yet to live up to expectations, he could be a prominent figure for Sundowns in their second leg against Rayon Sports, having started on the bench in the first leg in Kigali.
The striker is also no stranger to African football following his exploits in the CAF Confederation Cup with former club SuperSport United last season. His experience will be vital on Sunday.
2. Hlompho Kekana
The Sundowns captain has been used sparingly by Mosimane of late, but he is set for a big role in the heart of their adventure against Rayon Sports, who, with the tie well-balanced at goalless, still believe they have a good chance.
There are few more decorated midfielders in the South African game and as Kekana reaches the twilight of his career, he will be determined to steer ‘The Brazilians’ to one more successful Champions League triumph.
3. Percy Tau
When it comes to Sundowns’ attacking prowess, the 23-year-old is the man to watch. Tau has enjoyed an impressive domestic campaign, netting nine league goals and contributing six assists.
This could potentially be one of Tau’s final seasons as a Sundowns’ player amid talk of a possible move abroad and he may want to set the African stage alight on Sunday as he looks to attract even more European suitors.
4. Denis Onyango
The Ugandan goalkeeper has been Sundowns’ rock, especially in CAF Champions League. At the age of 32, he is still in his prime for a goalkeeper and his experience and reputation could be imperative on Sunday.
Renowned for his penalty-saving ability and good record in one-on-one situations, Onyango was voted the 2016 African Player of the Year among African footballers that ply their trade on the continent. In 2016, he was ranked the tenth best goalkeeper in the world by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics, and Rayon Sports will not want him to be at his best on Sunday.
5. Motjeka Madisha
With Ivory Coast international Bangaly Soumahoro sidelined through injury, young defender Madisha could be set for an important role in the heart of the Sundowns backline.
Madisha has enjoyed a meteoric rise over the last year and after being a stalwart in last year’s unsuccessful campaign, the experience he gathered could come in handy against the Rwandan champions.