South Africa

Who are Mamelodi Sundowns’ opponents Al Hilal?

Mamelodi Sundowns will host Al Hilal on Saturday, 13 February in their opening CAF Champions League group stage encounter at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.

Kick-off is at 18:00.

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Very little is known about the Brazilians’ opponents. Dean Boyle provides insight into the North Africa club.

Al Halal are giants of Sudanese football having won the Sudan Premier League a record 27 times – more than any side in the tournament’s history.

In the current season, they are third on 33 points, two behind log leaders Al Shabab who have 35 points from the same 17 matches.

However, they have not fared as well as their supporters would have liked in the CAF Champions League in recent years as this is only their third appearance in the group stages of the tournament in the last six seasons.

They were semi-finalists in 2011 and 2015 and runners-up in their joint-best performances to date in the 1987 and 1992 editions of the CAF Champions League.

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Meanwhile, Mamelodi Sundowns were the 2016 CAF Champions League winners.

In last season’s tournament they finished undefeated in the group stages – with four wins and two draws – but were knocked out in the quarter-finals after losing 3-1 to eventual champions Al Ahly of Egypt.

Mamelodi Sundowns are in red-hot form and are undefeated in the DStv Premiership this campaign.

At the halfway mark of their domestic season they sit top of the standings on 33 points, five points clear of four teams: SuperSport United, Golden Arrows, Moroka Swallows (who have a gave in hand) and Orlando Pirates (who have played two more matches).

Mamelodi Sundowns will have title ambitions in this year’s CAF Champions League and enter the tournament among the favourites along with former coach Pitso Mosimane’s  Al Ahly, Zamalek (both from Egypt), Raja Casablanca and Wydad Casablanca (both from Morocco) and Esperance de Tunis of Tunisia.

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