The Brazilians’ bid for the continent’s premier club title continues against perennial competitors in Africa
Mamelodi Sundowns kick off their Caf Champions League Group B campaign by hosting Al Hilal at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
It will be Downs’ bid for a second Champions League title after first claiming it in 2016.
And for the first time since 2015, the Brazilians will be taking part at this stage of the competition without former coach Pitso Mosimane.
It would be a stern test for their co-coaches Manqoba Mngqithi and Rhulani Mokwena, as well as senior coach Steve Komphela as they come up against a side that is seasoned in African club competitions.
Five-time African champions TP Mazembe and CR Belouizdad of Algeria complete Group B.
Game Mamelodi Sundowns vs Al Hilal Date Saturday, February 13 Time 18:00 SA Time TV Channel, Live Score & How To Watch Online Streaming TV Channel DStv.com/DStv Now App SuperSport TV’s PSL channel 202 Squads & Team News
Mokwena has stated new signing Rushine De Reuck is available for selection for this match after recovering from a “medical situation.”
This match comes exactly two weeks after De Reuck was officially announced as a Sundowns player after joining the team from Maritzburg United.
If the central defender is handed a run in Saturday’s match, he would be making his debut for Downs as well as featuring in his first-ever Champions League match.
Another centre-back Brian Mandela-Onyango is also back from injury and could make his Champions League debut for the Brazilians if selected.
Striker Mauricio Affonso has started light training but is still some way from regaining full fitness after surgery on his groin.
No injury updates from Al Hilal but Zimbabwean midfielder Last Jesi is one of the players Sundowns have to keep an eye on and has experience in this competition gained from playing for FC Platinum.
Jamaica defender Alvas Powell who joined the Sudanese giants from Major League Soccer side Inter Miami could taste Champions League football for the first time if selected to play.
After complaining of crammed domestic fixtures, Sundowns go into this match a bit refreshed after going nine days without being involved in competitive action.
In that period, players were also given three days off to recharge batteries.
The Brazilians also go into this match on the backdrop of enjoying a four-month run of not tasting defeat in any competition including easily dismissing Botswana champions Jwaneng Galaxy to book a group stage spot.
Their last defeat was the MTN8 quarter-final exit at the hands of Bloemfontein Celtic in October 2020.
The Sudanese giants last succumbed to defeat in October when they were edged 1-0 by domestic rivals Al Merreikh in the Sudani Premier League.
To reach the Champions League group phase, Al Hilal got past Ugandan champions Vipers as well as Ghanaian giants Asante Kotoko.
They arrived in Pretoria high in spirits after a 3-0 victory over Al Ahli Khartoum in a Sudani Premier League encounter on Monday.