For the first time in many years, South Africa had two representatives in the tournament’s ‘business round’, but the Tshwane giants would have been relieved to avoid coming up against Johannesburg rivals Orlando Pirates.
However, avoiding Pirates was the least of Sundowns’ problems as they now find themselves in a tough group that consists of a Nigerian powerhouse in Lobi Stars, and former champions in Asec Mimosas and Wydad Casablanca.
Nonetheless, Goal takes a brief look at what Sundowns should expect on their travels and whether or not they can progress to the knockout round.
In a group as tough as this, Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane may need to pick his battles and the Nigerian’s may be just the team to capitalise on.
This is only the second appearance in the group stage for Lobi Stars having previously competed in 2000, where they finished third in their group.
Lobi Stars though, are now champions of Nigeria and will have a point to prove. But Sundowns, who are now consistent campaigners in the group stage, will look to utilise their experience to overcome the side from Benue.
The Ivory Coast outfit are another side who offer a tricky path for Sundowns to venture on. Asec are one-time winners of the Caf Champions League back in 1998 but have since been on a decline.
But once again, the 1995 losing finalists to Orlando Pirates seem to be getting back to their best. After overcoming, Stade Malien and Mangasport, Asec have returned to the continent’s ‘big time’ for the first time since 2016.
Lastly, Sundowns meet familiar foes in the Moroccan giants. Revenge will certainly be in the air as Sundowns look to do something they have only done once before, beat the 2017 Caf Champions League winners.
Sundowns have met Wydad on four previous occasions, two in the quarterfinal round of the 2017 edition, where Wydad went on to dethrone Sundowns, and the 2018 competition where they met in the group stages, losing one and drawing the other.
This is expected to be Sundowns’ toughest test as the trip to Morocco has always proved difficult.
Meanwhile, Wydad will be hurting after missing out on defending their crown and are likely to be a formidable force, as they look to secure their third continental crown.