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CAFCL Preview: Al-Hilal Omdurman (SDN) vs. Mamelodi Sundowns (RSA)

A battle for group winner status in Group B of the CAF Champions League will take place on Saturday when Al-Hilal Omdurman host Mamelodi Sundowns in Sudan. The important match will be followed not only by supporters of the clubs involved but by those of third placed side Al Ahly who need Sundowns to earn a draw or victory away from home to keep the Egyptian club’s quarterfinal hopes alive. Sundowns currently lead the group with ten points with Hilal a point behind and Ahly six points back.

Hilal will continue to play without supporters at the Al-Hilal Stadium due to punishments handed out against the club following their 1-0 home victory over Ahly, a match that saw plenty of controversy and inadequate accommodation for the Egyptian visitors as judged by the Confederation of African Football (CAF). Regardless of the lack of support the Hilal team continues to be in peak form under coach Florent Ibengé with a dominant victory in the first leg of their Arab Club Champions Cup match duel against Bahrain’s Manama Club earlier this week.

Ibengé and his team need a victory because a draw or defeat will leave them likely needing to avoid defeat at Al Ahly on the final day, making Saturday’s match one of serious importance. A club that calls upon African players from all throughout the continent as well as Sudan’s top talent, Congolese attacker Makabi Lilepo is the player who stands out the most with five goals in CAF Champions League play this season. Sudan national team talisman Mohamed Abdelrahman joins Lilepo as a goal scoring threat. Senegalese defender Ousmane Diouf anchors the defense with Ghanaian Imoro Ibrahim and Sudanese right back Athir El Tahir forming threats on attacks down the wings.

Sundowns are guaranteed a spot in the quarterfinals following their dominant victory over Ahly last weekend and now Ahly supporters are worried the South African champions will not play their best players on Saturday. The club rubbished claims that there will be numerous reserves playing and a lack of motivation for Masandawana with head coach Rulani Mokwena stating his team will be playing to win. Mokwena and his players will treat the match as a strong test for the in-form club who want to prove they can go to Africa’s most difficult venues and earn results.

A list of multiple players will not be in action on Saturday due to injury for Sundowns but most of the players in the list are not important starting players. Sundowns will have two weeks off following the match with the international break arriving soon, indicating that stars like Themba Zwane, Peter Shalulile, Cassius Mailula and Teboho Mokoena will be involved. Neo Maema is likely to partner Mokoena in the midfield but there is the possibility that a player like Haashim Domingo may get the nod since Maema has played every minute of Sundowns’ four matches over the past two weeks.

More on both teams is below in the links to South African and Sudanese media.

Downs hold key to Ahly’s last eight chances (Sowetan Live)

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