Mamelodi Sundowns begin their 2021/22 Caf Champions League campaign with an away date against Maniema Union in a first-round, first leg match at Stade des Martyrs de la Pentecote on Sunday.
Since winning the Caf Super Cup in 2017, Sundowns have struggled to bag some silverware on the continent, having lifted their only Champions League title in 2016.
After receiving a first round bye, Masandawana will be up against a team that has already warmed up to this competition.
This will be Sundowns’ first Champions League match since May when they were eliminated from this competition at the quarter-final stage by eventual champions Al Ahly.
Masandawana defender Mosa Lebusa returns from injury in what is a big boost ahead of such a match.This is after the centre-back missed the last two Premier Soccer League games as well as Bafana Bafana assignments but is now back to full fitness.
Thapelo Morena is expected back from injury while Promise Mkhuma and Ricardo Nascimento are doubtful.
Lebohang Maboe continues with rehabilitation after undergoing surgery on his knee.This is the first time ever for Sundowns and Maniema to face each other in any competition.
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Masandawana’s previous trips to the DR Congo were to fulfil fixtures against perennial continental competitors TP Mazembe and AS Vita.Their last visit to DR Congo was in March 2021 when they beat TP Mazembe 2-1 away in Lubumbashi in a group game last season.
For Maniema to reach this stage of the competition, they eliminated Gabonese side Bouenguidi 3-1 on aggregate following a 1-1 away draw and a 2-0 victory.
But they now host Sundowns on the backdrop of a two-match winless run, having lost 2-1 to AS Vita in the DR Congo Ligue 1 before a 2-2 draw against Renaissance.
What could be scary for them is facing a marauding Sundowns side which has won five straight matches