Mamelodi Sundowns say their primary target this season is to make it off the group stages and into the quarter finals.
The Brazilians, winners of the 2016 TotalEnergies CAF Champions League, have been drawn in an all familiar group with two of the same teams they face in the same stage last season.
They will once again play record champions Al Ahly of Egypt, Sudan’s Al Hilal and will be joined in the group by Cameroon’s Cotonsport.
Head coach Rulani Mokwena says the team has its ambitions and targets set out, admitting they find themselves in a tough setting once again.
“The challenge number one we have is to get out of the group. We need to accumulate enough points to take us to the knockout phases,” the tactician said.
“There’s a lot of very difficult teams that have made the group stage. The Champions League over the years has become such a difficult competition for everybody regardless who you are, you will always be drawn against tough teams,” he added.
The tactician is looking forward to all six ties in the group and hopes his side can replicate the performance from last season when they earned five wins and a draw from the group. Their only blemish to deny them a 100pc record was an away draw against Al Hilal.
Again, Mokwena knows it is going to be a tough ride, but reckons his side has what it takes to go through the waves.
On Ahly, the coach says: “It’s always difficult to travel to Cairo. Ahly are always difficult to play especially away from home. They have changed coaches and also made improvements in the squad. We have seen already a couple of their games and we have analysts working to get as much info as we can but over the years this has become such a big fixture. It will be an interesting fixture against teams which know each other.”
The tactician is also looking forward to the trip away in garoua against Cotonsport and reckons it will also not be an easy duel.
Hilal, under new coach Florent Ibenge who led RS Berkane to the CAF Confederation Cup title last season, is also another team which offers Masandawana plenty to think about.
“We anticipate an interesting trip to Sudan again. Hilal have some very good players and some who we are familiar with like Gerald Phiri. They are also under an experienced coach who is huge in this terrain and has achieved great things,” Mokwena noted.
Sundowns hope to do better than last season when they made it out of the groups, but saw their journey end in the quarter final stage. They already showed their mettle, picking the biggest preliminary round win with a 15-1 aggregate victory over Seychellois side La Passe.
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