title eludes sundowns
The Brazilians are hoping for a better showing in their Pan African escapades.
Following Orlando Pirates' enormous success in the Champions League in 1995, South Africans were hopeful of a second gold medal when Mamelodi Sundowns reached the final of this tournament in 2001.
But the Brazilians faltered at the last hurdle, when they were hammered 4-1 by Egypt's powerhouse Al Alhly in the away leg of the final. Since then, subsequent attempts to bring glory back to South Africa have stalled.
They were knocked out of the competition by the same Al Alhly in the knockout stages last year.
Now, as they embark on the first step in trying to replicate the Buccaneers' success, Sundowns appear to have been favoured by the draw - at least on paper their chances of getting through to the next stage look stronger than last year.
Tonight at 8pm Sundowns will meet Zanzibar champions Miembeni SC at the Amani stadium.
Admitting they know nothing about their opponents except what they were told by assistant coach Trott Moloto from his stint as coach of Simba SC of neighbouring Tanzania, Downs did what they could to bring themselves up to speed.
"The technical team found some tapes and tried to analyse them. Other than that, they are a closed book to us," said club spokesman Daniel "Mambush" Mudau, who captained that 2001 Sundowns team that went down to Al Ahly.
Mudau is hopeful Sundowns will start well, and go even further but he was cautiously optimistic: "Based on my experience as a player, I know it is going to be difficult and they will have a lot to contend with."
The rest of South Africa will probably hope that Gordon Igesund's star-studded side, with players such as Peter Ndlovu, Michael Manzini and Surprise Moriri, will deliver this time.
The Brazilians will have to knuckle down as their hosts have a modest history of success on their side. Like Sundowns in recent years, Miembeni SC won the league for three successive seasons from 1985 to 87.
lFor more on the African Champions League fixtures see page 43.