Barcelona will bring their big stars‚ says Sundowns boss Motsepe
Barcelona have undertaken to bring their best stars to South Africa to play against Mamelodi Sundowns in the now-confirmed friendly match at FNB Stadium on Wednesday‚ Downs president Patrice Motsepe has said.
Newly-crowned Absa Premiership kings Sundowns meet new La Liga champions Barcelona in the Nelson Mandela Centenary Cup at FNB at 6pm on Wednesday.
In the announcement on Thursday at Sandton Convention Centre to confirm the much-talked about match-up Motsepe indicated that Barcelona will bring a full-strength team‚ along with 100 top officials from the club.
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 quarter finalists 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 – and as I said‚ this is the year of the World Cup [in Russia] – 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.
“... It’s also important that in terms of our arrangements and specifically agreements that we have we’ve got to mention those specific players‚ as we’ve done in the past.”
Pressed further on whether he knows of any particular players who will not be able to make the trip‚ Motsepe said such information was confidential.
“There are issues that we may not disclose. Safe to say that there is going to be a delegation of close to 100 coming from Barcelona‚ and it will include the most senior leadership of Barcelona.
“Are there specific players who are not coming‚ again there’s confidentiality in terms of this one‚ but what I can tell you is that the first time they came [to play Sundowns] in 2007 the contract said specifically that Messi could not come because of an injury.
“So in 2007 those players‚ all of them [came]. Because you’ve got to list the names [of who’s coming and not coming].”
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 Andre 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‚ according to the assurance made by Motsepe.
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 bringing Barcelona to SA.