Sundowns ready to rule continent

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Harris Choeu, Mamelodi Sundowns' manager, believes the squad they have assembled has what it takes to do well in the MTN African Champions League.

The Brazilians start their campaign with a relatively easy assignment against Royal Leopards from neighbouring Swaziland.

The first-round match of this celebrated continental tournament is scheduled for the weekend of January 26 to 28 at a venue still to be decided by Sundowns.

"We wanted to host the game at Super Stadium but the problem is that our brothers from SuperSport United will be using the venue," explained Choeu.

"The other problem is that Kaizer Chiefs will be using Loftus Stadium. We hope to get another ground before the end of the week.

"Regarding our preparations, everything is well on track and we are looking forward to the game, though Leopards are a closed book to us.

"It will be suicidal for us to underestimate them - it is a known fact that they know everything about our playing personnel because they watch our games on television."

Patrice Motsepe, Sundowns' president, has made it clear that he plans to see the Brazilians becoming one of the top clubs on the continent.

"We need to start somewhere. The Champions League is a golden opportunity for us to to start making an impact on the continent," said Choeu.

'The most important thing is to take each game as it comes until we reach the group stages, we don't want to lose focus in our quest to conquer Africa."

Leopards, guided by Musa Zwane, who is the assistant coach of Swaziland's senior national team, are planning to play two friendlies before facing Downs - against clubs from Lesotho and Botswana.

Leopards have exciting players like Mzwandile Mamba, who is going for trials in Belgium next month, Gcina Mazibuko and Mxolisi Mthethwa.

The trio are also doing duty for Isihlangu.

Sundowns reached the final of the Champions League in 2001, with Ted Dumitru as coach, but were defeated by Egyptian giants Al-Ahly.

Orlando Pirates are the only southern African side to have won the continental showpiece in 1995, with Kaizer Chiefs clinching the Mandela Cup (now Confederation Cup) in 2002.