Barcelona in South Africa for Mandela Cup friendly with Sundowns

Barcelona to Play Mamelodi Sundowns in Mandela Centenary Cup

"It is an honour to be invited to celebrate the 100 years that Nelson Mandela was born I think the people enjoyed it very much watching his favourite players playing".

Eymael‚ one of the highest qualified coaches in South Africa‚ whose Stars faced Sundowns twice on their way to concluding their 2017-18 Absa Premiership season in sixth place with a defeat against Orlando Pirates this past weekend‚ believes Downs can match Barcelona blow for blow.

Despite missing training, he still made the nine-hour journey to South Africa with his teammates after being named in a 23-man squad.

Sundowns led inside two minutes through stalwart forward Surprise Moriri, and held that advantage through most of the match before the visitors found an equaliser.

"The big home crowd will also help Sundowns".

Though Messi, Gerrard Pique and Philippe Coutinho all started from the bench, an otherwise strong Barca XI encountered few hiccups, aside from a Sibusiso Vilakazi consolation strike in the 76th minute.

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Ronaldinho was instrumental in the Barca victor too, as he laid a pass on for youth academy product Marc Crosas, who buried the ball.

"Sundowns play nice soccer‚ a good ball possession game‚ a bit like Barcelona".

What could be learned from the end-to-end football - mostly in the direction of Denis Onyango in Sundowns' goal‚ but the other way too - was that Downs‚ as they found out at the 2016 Club World Cup‚ do not have a credible defence at this level.

"We have spent approximately R900 000 on security as all tickets were sold out by Monday‚" Grobbelaar said.

With Barcelona only set to arrive in Johannesburg this morning and fly out again tonight, there will be little time for fanfare outside of the fixture. I would like to thank the president [Patrice Motsepe] for making it happen.

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