Barcelona bring­ing top play­ers to SA

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - SPORT - Marc Stry­dom

BARCELONA have un­der­taken to bring their best stars to South Africa to play against Mamelodi Sundowns in the now-con­firmed friendly soc­cer match at FNB Sta­dium on Wed­nes­day‚ Downs pres­i­dent Pa­trice Mot­sepe said.

Newly-crowned Absa Premier­ship cham­pi­ons Sundowns meet new La Liga cham­pi­ons Barcelona in the Nel­son Man­dela Cen­te­nary Cup at FNB at 6pm on Wed­nes­day.

Mot­sepe in­di­cated that Barcelona would bring a full-strength team‚ along with 100 top of­fi­cials.

That means one of the world’s two best foot­ballers at present‚ for­ward Lionel Messi‚ should make a re­turn to South Africa where he com­peted for quar­ter­fi­nal­ists Ar­gentina at the 2010 World Cup.

“That’s partly why we had to give them a lit­tle bit more time [in the or­gan­i­sa­tions for the game] to make sure that we get the very best‚” Mot­sepe said.

“And that is the un­der­tak­ing that we have re­ceived. So in­deed it is the very‚ very best. Be­cause it’s very im­por­tant.”

Pressed on whether he knew of any par­tic­u­lar play­ers who would not make the trip‚ Mot­sepe said such in­for­ma­tion was con­fi­den­tial.

Barcelona‚ ac­cord­ing to their web­site‚ are sched­uled to ar­rive on Tues­day.

Among other global su­per­stars in their lineup are the Spain trio of Ger­ard Pique‚ Ser­gio Bus­quets and An­dré Ini­esta who played in their coun­try’s 1-0 2010 World Cup fi­nal vic­tory against Nether­lands at FNB.

Luis Su­raez‚ a star for Uruguay when they beat Bafana Bafana at the 2010 World Cup and went onto the semi­fi­nals‚ and French star­let Ous­mane Dem­bele‚ should also make the trip to South Africa.

Sundowns and the Mot­sepe Foun­da­tion are part­ner­ing with the In­ter-Min­is­te­rial Com­mit­tee of the South African gov­ern­ment that is re­spon­si­ble for the Nel­son Man­dela Cen­te­nary Cel­e­bra­tions‚ the Nel­son Man­dela Foun­da­tion‚ Safa and La Liga to bring Barcelona to SA. – TimesLIVE

PHO­TO­GRAPH: GETTY IMAGES

HE’S COM­ING: Barcelona's Lionel Messi, scor­ing here against Vil­lareal, is ex­pected to be in the Euro­pean club’s squad which will play Mamelodi Sundowns in a friendly next week

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