Who are Rayon Sports?
Posted: 7 March 2018 Time: 17:00
Mamelodi Sundowns get their 2018 CAF Champions League campaign underway this evening as they take on Rwandan champions Rayon Sports FC in Kigali.
Masandawana head into their tournament opener in good form, having lost just one of their last nine games played in domestic football.
A routine 3-1 Absa Premiership victory over AmaZulu on Friday evening kept their four-point lead at the summit of the Absa Premiership standings intact while giving them extra time to travel to Rwanda to acclimatise and watch their opposition in domestic action.
Rayon, meanwhile, are back in CAF competition for the first time since 2014, having taken Rwandan National Soccer League honours last year, winning the championship by a comfortable 12 points. The eight-time league champions, who also have nine Rwandan Cups to their name since their inception in 1968, have not fared well at all in their previous seven appearances in the Champions League: they’ve never made the group stages, with a second-round qualifying exit in 1999 their best showing.
Currently sitting second in their domestic league after 13 games played – just a point behind leaders Kiyovu Sports with a game in hand – Rayon, who also won last year’s Rwandan Super Cup, have drawn three and won two of their last five games, and earned the right to face Sundowns after a narrow 2-1 aggregate win over Burundian club LLB Academic in the previous round.
Coached by experienced Belgian manager Ivan Minaert, Rayon boast a number of internationals in their team but will be without star 21-year-old defender Thierry Manzi, as well as the injured Djabel Manishimwe.
Kick-off at the 30 000-seater Stade Amahoro is set for 18h00.