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CAF CL: Rayon Sports march on to face Mamelodi Sundowns

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Kigali: Hussein ‘Tchabalala’ Shaban powered Rwandan league champions Rayon Sports Fc to the next stage of the CAF Champions League after edging Burundian side Lydia Ludic Academic (LLB S4A FC) 1-0 in the return leg of the preliminary round played on Wednesday in Bujumbura.

In the match which was played at a fully packed Prince Louis Rwagasore, Burundian import Hussein ‘Tchabalala’ Shaban who scored in the first leg’s 1-all draw scored the vital goal in the 30th minute.

According to the Rwanda Football Association, Rayon Sports Fc started the match on the front foot and in the third minute Tchabalala connected a set piece to Shassir Nahimana but the ball was cleared by Lydia Ludic players.

More opportunities followed for the Blues as Kevin Muhire, Tchabalala, Nahimana and Djabel Manishiwme but could not be converted.

The Burundians attacked Rayon Sports in the dying minutes of the game in search for an equaliser but could not break a solid defense mounted by the Blues backed by the heroic saves from experienced goalie Eric Ndayishimiye.

In the 30th minute, Nahimana set up a good set to Tchabalala who made good use of the ball to strike past Lydia Ludic goalie Mutomzora Fabien.

The lone away goal secured helped Rayon Sports to progress to the first round thanks to a 2-1 goal aggregate. The Blues will face South African giants and 2016 CAF Champions League winner, Masandawana in the first leg scheduled for March 6-7 in Kigali while the return leg will be staged in South Africa in the weekend of 16-18, 2018.

Mamelodi Sundowns were given a bye into the first round of the CAF Champions League competition.

The Brazilians ended off their previous CAF Champions League campaign with an exit from the quarter-final stages of the competition this year, this coming quickly after being crowned the champions of the continent in 2016.

Now, Masandawana will look to regroup and challenge once again in the competition but must have to negotiate a tough boundary against Rayon Sports fc of Rwanda.

Al Ahly, Wydad Athletic Club, TP Mazembe and Etoile du Sahel are the other clubs who will begin their quest for the 2018 CAF Champions League from the first round.

The winner of the first round will drawn in a play-off round with eventual winners being placed into four groups of four teams each in both Champions League and Confederation Cup.

After a round-robin of matches (home and away), the top two in each group will qualify for the quarter-finals, which opens a new phase of knockout matches till the final.

In the CAF Champions League, the winner will pocket US$2.5 million, first runner-up $1.25m, while the semi-finalists will bag $875,000 and quarter-finalists $650,000. Clubs which will finish third and fourth, will each get $550,000. (End)


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