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FC Barcelona announce SA friendly to mark Mandela centenary

Reuters/NAN

FC Barcelona will play a friendly match against South African champions Mamelodi Sundowns in Johannesburg on Wednesday, the club said on Thursday.

The match will be part of celebrations to mark 100 years since the birth of Nelson Mandela.

It will be played at the FNB Stadium, formerly known as the Soccer City Stadium, where Spain won the 2010 World Cup.

The 2010 squad featured Barca players like Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets and captain Andres Iniesta, who struck the only goal in their 1-0 win over the Netherlands.

“FC Barcelona has always professed its admiration for Nelson Mandela, one of the greatest figures of the 20th century.

“He had after 27 years in prison went on to become the first democratically-elected president of post-apartheid South Africa from 1994 to 1999.

“Mandela represented the struggle for freedom and equality in the country, and played a huge role in unifying the racially-divided society.

“It is precisely this kind of spirit with which FC Barcelona has always been identified,” a statement on the club’s website said.

Mandela was born on July 18, 1918, but it appears the match has been brought forward because of the 2018 FIFA World Cup finals in Russia.

The competition holds from June 14 to July 15.

The friendly is now sandwiched between Barca’s penultimate Liga game away to Levante on May 13 and their final game at home to Real Sociedad on May 20.

Ernesto Valverde’s side clinched a 25th Liga title, the King’s Cup on and are bidding to become the first team since 1933 to complete a Spanish top-flight season without losing a game.

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Tokunbo David
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