Spanish soccer giants Barcelona arrived in South Africa on Wednesday morning, just hours before their Nelson Mandela Centenary Cup match against Mamelodi Sundowns at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg.
The recently crowned Spanish LaLiga Champions will take on the newly crowned South Africa Premier Soccer League Champions in a friendly match that forms part of the Nelson Mandela Centenary celebrations organised by the South African government and the Patrice Motsepe Foundation.
Barcelona have a tough schedule ahead of them. They are fresh from a thrilling 5-4 league defeat to strugglers Levante on Sunday evening, which has spoilt their chance of an unbeaten season in LaLiga.
Big stars Messi, Iniesta, Suarez, Pique and Coutinho are in the squad, laying to rest speculations that the Spanish champions would field a B squad against their South African counterparts.
This is not the first time Barcelona will be playing Sundowns. Mamelodi Sundowns owner, billionaire Patrice Motsepe had facilitated their first friendly in 2007 which Barcelona won 2-1.
At the time, the club had visited Nelson Mandela at his home and presented him with a Barcelona shirt.
They are billed to fly back to Spain straight after the match, to begin their preparations for their final League game against Real Sociedad next Sunday.
Tickets sold out
Tickets for the friendly have been officially sold out, Stadium Management confirmed on Monday.
Stadium Management CEO Jacques Grobbelaar confirmed that just over 80,000 tickets for the clash had been sold and there would also be strict action against patrons who are in possession of fake tickets.
Tickets ranged from 40 to 550 rand (between 3 and 44 US dollars) as well as hospitality packages that started from 2,000 rand (about 160 US dollars).
Stringent security measures have been put in place that includes beefed up police and security personnel.
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