CAF Champions League Sundowns look for history against Zamalek

The 2016 CAF Champions League final kicks off this weekend. Will it be South Africa or Egypt? A debut win or a sixth win?

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Sundowns Zamalek play Sundowns earlier met Zamalek in this season's group phase. (CAF)
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The first and only Champions League final Mamelodi Sundowns contested in was in 2001, when their aspirations were crushed by Egyptian super-club Al Ahly.

Ahly, who were then two-time winners - they have since increased that tally to eight - gave the South African club the proverbial baptism of fire, thrashing them 4-1 over two legs.

Now, 15 years later, Sundowns, as reigning South African Champions, are back in the final with hopes of finally getting to lay hands on Africa club football's most coveted trophy.

On Saturday, the Brazilians will take to the pitch at the Lucas Moripe Stadium in Atteridgeville, Pretoria in the first leg of this year's Champions League final.

Ironically, standing in their is another Egyptian club: Ahly's rivals Zamalek, the White Knights.

Sundowns, who will desperately hope to be second time lucky this time around, will be looking to become only the second ever South African Club to win the Champions League, after the 1995 win of Orlando Pirates. Zamalek, on the other hand, are veterans: they will go into Saturday's final looking for a 6th African title.

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Coach Pitso 'Jingles' Mosimane's Sundowns had a bizzare route to the final. They suffered elimination in the preliminary round only to be the lucky recipients of an unexpected readmission after the disqualification of AS Vita Club of Congo. They however seized the opportunity, going on to top their group and beating Zambian club ZESCO United 3-2 over two legs in the semis.

Coach Moamen Soliman's Zamalek, though, had to outwit Moroccan big shots Wydad Casablanca in a heated semi final, winning 6-5 on aggregate after almost throwing away a four-goal lead from a first leg played at home.

Sundowns go into the final as favourites, despite never having won the cup, basically because they beat Zamalek back to back in the Group stages, a 2-1 win in Cairo and a 1-0 win back in Pretoria.

Both clubs will hope to get a result that will increase their chances of lifting the trophy at the Cairo International Stadium a week later, during the second leg. 

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