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Feature: Who are Mamelodi Sundowns' opponents in Caf Champions League group stages?

20:52 GMT+3 22/03/2018
Mamelodi Sundowns celebrate winning Caf Champions League
Goal looks at what Masandawana have to look forward to in the Caf Champions League group stage

Mamelodi Sundowns learnt their Caf Champions League fate on Wednesday evening as the draw for the 2018 group stages was conducted in Cairo.

Masandawana coach Pitso Mosimane was in attendance and certainly did not look too perturbed on seeing who his side would come up against in the next round of the competition. The 53-year-old would have been delighted as he got his wish with Sundowns avoiding Congolese giants TP Mazembe as the reigning Caf Confederation Cup champions were placed in arguably the tournament’s most difficult group alongside three North African side’s in Algeria’s MC Algers, ES Setif and DH Jadid.

Nonetheless, for Sundowns their focus will now be firmly on Group C following the draw, and Goal looks at the three other teams which the 2016 Caf Champions League winners will need to wary of if they are to reclaim their crown.


 WYDAD ATHLETIC CLUB


When the Champions League group stages begin at the beginning of May, Sundowns will have arguably their toughest task to date in the competition as they will come up against a familiar foe in Wydad Casablanca.

Although, the draw was only completed recently many have already hyped up the encounter as a game of vengeance. Last year, it was the Moroccan giants who eliminated Sundowns at the quarterfinal round on penalties despite Sundowns winning the first leg in Tshwane by a solitary goal. But while the Brazilians would rue their missed opportunities on the flight home, their opponents would go on to win the tournament and earn place at the 2017 Fifa Club World Cup.

Revenge will surely be on the cards, but it is important to note that Wydad are not exactly the same side that set the African continent alight winning their second continental crown. As expected Wydad have suffered a Champions League hangover, which reared its ugly head in their domestic campaign and has led to coach Hussein Amotta losing his job. Wydad though have since brought on board talismanic Tunisian figure Faouzi Benzarti. Under his mentorship Wydad were able to overcome Ivory Coast side WAC to progress to the lucrative group stages.

But Worrying for the former Etoile du Sahel mentor is the fact that despite Wydad’s formidable home record, they were beaten in Abidjan by two goals. That result will almost certainly boost Sundowns’ confidence ahead of their meeting in Tshwane.


 HOROYA AC


The Guinean side are once again returning to South African shores for a continental bout, only this time they will need to fend off SuperSport United’s more illustrious neighbours. Sundowns coach Mosimane will sift through all the possible footage he can find from their Caf Confederation Cup trip to South Africa last year as they played out to a hard-fought 2-2 draw against Matsatsantsa in Tshwane.

But what Mosimane is likely to learn from viewing Horoya’s past exploits is that they are not a team there just to make up the numbers. Out of six games, they only suffered one defeat which came against Mazembe in Lubumbashi. This only reinforces the belief that the Guinean champions could be a dark horse in the group.

It is also important to note that all the teams in Group C will need to watch for Horoya’s abundance of West African talent. Players such as Seyei Sebe Baffour come to mind as some of the players that could be potential game changes.


AS TOGO-PORT


Lastly, and without any shadow of a doubt the group’s most unknown side is Togolese outfit, AS Togo-Port. Sundowns coach Mosimane has already admitted not knowing much about the side emanating from the Togolese capital of Lome, but what is apparent that they cannot be taken lightly.

To reach the group stages of the Champions League, Togo-Port not only eliminated Sudanese giants Al Hilal Omdurman but also eliminated Congo-Brazzaville side AC Leopards. On both occasions, Togo-Port lost the away leg, but were able to turn their fortunes around at home, which further illustrates the threat that they present in front of their home crowd.

The Togolese league champions have not lost in their last 10 games at home which could indicate that the likes of Wydad and Sundowns are in for an immense fight when visiting the Stade General Eyadema.