Sundowns face the unknown tonight

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Sundowns travel to East Africa to take on Zanzibar’s Miembeni SC while the Tycoons make their debut in the competition against Lesotho Correctional Services.

The Zanzibar league which comprises 12 teams, is not the toughest in the world but Miembeni cannot by any means be underestimated.

They have won Tanzania’s premier competition, the Nyerere Cup, three times in 1985, 1986 and 1987.

And 1987 proved to be a fruitful year for Miembeni as they won a league and cup double.

It was their first league title since the start of the Zanzibar league in 1981. They won their second league title in 2007 to earn their ticket into this year’s African Champions League.

The Brazilians will be relying a lot on the experience gained by assistant coach Trott Moloto who coached Tanzania’s Simba SC in 2005.

Sundowns’ match is scheduled for Aman Stadium this evening.

The winner of this match will play either Curepipe Starlight of Mauritius or Coin Nord Mitsamiouli of Comoros Islands in the second round on the weekend of March 21-23. And the winner will progress to the third round scheduled for April and May.

Platinum Stars’ Zimbabwe defender Bekithemba Ndlovu, who captained his Zimbabwean club Highlanders in several abortive CAF Champions League campaigns, says he wait for a return to the tournament.

The 31-year-old says he is excited that he will be joining an elite group of players that have represented more than one club in this competition.

“It is great to be back playing in the CAF Champions League after an absence of four years and playing for a different club from another country.

“I am confident that Stars will leave an indelible impression,” says Ndlovu, who last played in the competition in 2003 when Tunisia’s Esperance thumped Highlanders 6-0 away from home.

Stars’ keeper Tapuwa Kapini was in goal during the match Ndlovu and fellow countrymen would like to forget.

Ndlovu is confident that the Tycoons will progress to the next stage of the competition despite losing their opening second round Premiership fixture against Golden Arrows earlier in the week.

“We have enough experience and talent at our disposal to perform well in the competition. Playing in Africa is indeed a taxing exercise with host teams, especially from the North employing underhand tactics or referees biased in favour of them.

“With the right attitude, we will make an impression,” says the former Moroka Swallows fullback.

Kapini is also confident of the team’s chances, saying Stars are blessed with players that have played in African club and national tournaments.

“We are ready,” says the 23-year-old, a ‘veteran’ campaigner in three Champions League campaigns before he crossed the Limpopo to join Stars. These include Willem Jackson, Edward Williams and Sailor Tshabalala who all played for Orlando Pirates.

Champions League runners-up Al Ahly have been given a preliminary round bye, and should face the winner from the game between Kenya’s Tusker and Eritrea's Al-Tahrir in the second round.

Holders Etoile Sahel have been also given first round bye, alongside ASEC Mimosas, Ittihad of Libya, Algeria's JS Kabylie and Hilal of Sudan.

Egyptian league vice-champions Zamalek, who are Egypt’s other representatives, are set to face APR FC of Rwanda in the preliminary round. However, there is still a cloud over the fixture as it was earlier reported that Rwanda had been disqualified due to the fact that they had not paid their dues to the continental body.