Mamelodi Sundowns officials do not want to admit it publicly, but confidence is so high around their training ground on the outskirts of Johannesburg, that they are already behaving like champions.

And well they might be. Six points clear in South Africa's Premier League, with two matches in hand over their closest challengers and with just ten rounds of the season remaining, Sundowns are well on their way to winning a second successive title and their ninth in the last 19 years.

The club's origins hail from the township of Mamelodi on the outskirts of Pretoria and have made great strides since its foundation 47 years ago. What was once a community club is now owned by mining magnate Patrice Motsepe, whose purchases and passion for his side have seen him labeled 'the African Roman Abramovich'.

The Sundowns project an aura of skill and self confidence, resplendent in the yellow and blue colours that have led to them being nicknamed 'the Brazilians'.

Last September, Motsepe fired co-coaches Miguel Gamondi and Neil Tovey just five games into the new season because the club made a stuttering start, despite only suffering one defeat. Their replacement was Gordon Igesund, the coach with the best winning record in South African football, who is now on the cusp of winning his fourth championship with four different clubs, all inside the last decade.

Sundowns take a break from their domestic agenda on Sunday when they travel to neighbouring Mozambique to face Desportivo Maputo in the first leg of their second round tie. The South Africans are looking ahead to a possible third round match up with Egypt's Al Ahly, the defending champions, in April.

"The Champions League is a reality, we want to do well in the competition," said Igesund. "The first priority is to make the final eight, of course, but once we get to the league phase then we'll want to win it. In fact, here we want to win everything, even when we play Monopoly!"

Sundowns can expect resistance from Desportivo Maputo, but will probably be too strong for their opponents over the course of the two legs. The return match is in Pretoria in mid-March and the winner takes on either Al Ahly or Zimbabwe's Highlanders. 

Big names enter the fray
Al Ahly will be just up the road from Mamelodi Sundowns on Sunday, as they are competing in Bulawayo against Highlanders. The coach of the Egyptian giants, Manuel Jose, has been talking of his respect for the South Africans and looking forward to a possible meeting with the team in the third round of this year's competition.

The two sides met in the 2001 final, with Al Ahly recording a 4-1 aggregate victory, but Jose admits that it was a result that flattered the Cairo-based club.

Al Ahly are among four sides making their entrance in the Champions League after being given a bye in the first round. Also kicking off their campaigns are Morocco's Royal Armed Forces, who travel to Ghana to face Ashanti Gold at Obuasi, and ASEC Abidjan, who have a tricky tie against FC Kallon in Sierra Leone.

Etoile Sahel, the Tunisian club who were Champions League finalists in 2004 and 2005 and winners last year's African Confederations Cup, would have been also set to play at the weekend, but their match in Guinea against Fello Star Labe has been postponed because of the ongoing civil unrest in the west African country.

CAF's executive committee, who meet in Accra, Ghana later this week, will make a decision about possibly moving the tie to a neutral venue or deciding the game over one leg in Tunisia in mid-March.
 
CAF African Champions League
Second Round, First Leg

 
Friday 2 March
Esperance - ZANACO

Saturday 3 March
Al Hilal - Zamalek
Al Ittihad - AS FNIS

Sunday 4 March
Sewe Sport - Coton Sport
St George - Etoile du Congo
AS Adema - TP Mazembe Englebert
Stade Malien - Wydad Casablanca
Highlanders - Al Ahli
Young Africans - Petro Atletico
Mangasport - JS Kabylie
FC Kallon - ASEC Abidjan
APR FC - Maranatha Fiokpo
Nasarawa United - Port Authority
Desportivo Maputo - Mamelodi Sundowns
Ashanti Gold - Royal Armed Forces

The first leg of Fello Star Labe's game with Etoile Sahel has been postponed.

The return legs will be played on the weekend of 16-18 March.