Johannesburg played host to one of the most spine-tingling, special games in recent years with local club Mamelodi Sundowns, the Premier Soccer League (PSL) champions taking on FC Barcelona at FNB Stadium on Wednesday 16 May.
Los Azulgranas who recently clinched the LaLiga Santander title, travelled to South Africa as guests of Sundowns. The venue was FNB Stadium, a ground which Spanish supporters are familiar with as it was there that Spain won the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
A unique occasion for African football fans in the country, the fixture was arranged as part of the celebrations marking the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth, which will be taking place throughout this year. LaLiga, the Motsepe Foundation and the South African Football Association (SAFA) all played a key roles in bringing the whole spectacle to life.
“LaLiga is thrilled with the overall turnout that included South African football fans lending their support for both local giants Mamelodi Sundowns and Spanish giants FC Barcelona. With a packed stadium full of colour and passion for the beautiful game, we’re proud to have played a key role in making this clash of champions a reality all in memory of the late icon Nelson Mandela.” Antonio Barradas, LaLiga Africa Director.
LaLiga’s involvement of this spectacle is the latest illustration of its commitment to making its mark in Africa and engaging more closely with its fans across the continent. From a South African point of view, the organisation is also involved in other grassroots projects that further illustrate its commitment. To date LaLiga has expanded in the African Continent, with offices in South Africa (Johannesburg) and Nigeria (Abuja) since 2015 and 2016 respectively.
This is the second time the Catalan giants visited South Africa, having previously done so in 2007. Back then, they also made the journey to face Mamelodi Sundowns in what was an unforgettable encounter. Last night’s spectacle finished 3-1 in Los Azulgranas favour thanks to goals from Ousmane Dembele, Luis Suarez and Andre Gomes. Local champions Masandawana pulled one back through Sibusiso “Villa” Vilakazi.
The match was an entertaining affair that was played in the right spirit and perfectly honouring Nelson Mandela, a true icon who lives on