Sunday, 20 May, 2018

Barcelona jets in for a day to beat South African champs

Pitso Mosimane & Patrice Motsepe Mamelodi Sundowns May 2018 Backpagepix
Shannon Reynolds | 18 May, 2018, 12:13

Cape Town - Superstars Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta were just some of the names included as Spanish giants Barcelona named their squad to face Mamelodi Sundowns in the Mandela Centenary Cup.

South African football fans gathered at OR Tambo International Airport on a cold Wednesday morning to welcome a full-strength Barcelona team, including talisman Lionel Messi.

With the who's of who of world football‚ politicians and top class celebrities expected to grace the event sponsored by the Motsepe Foundation‚ Grobbelaar said security was paramount and they would not take any chances.

Mandela, South Africa's first black president, died in December 2013 at the age of 95.

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Tonight's match is part of celebrations to mark 100 years since the birth of anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela. "It is precisely this kind of spirit with which FC Barcelona has always been identified", the statement added.

This is the second time that Sundowns will host Barcelona for a friendly game, having previously met in 2007, a match that the Catalans won 2-1.

Manager Ernesto Valverde fielded a strong starting XI for the one-off fixture in Johannesburg as they looked to get over their disappointment of losing their unbeaten streak in La Liga following Sunday's 5-4 loss to Levante. Their final game is at home to Real Sociedad on May 20.

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