JOHANNESBURG – FC Barcelona beat South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns 3-1 on Wednesday at the Mandela Centennial Cup in the same stadium where Spain won the 2010 World Cup final on a goal by Barça’s Andres Iniesta.
“We have been remembering Andres’s goal in the World Cup,” Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said during a post-match press conference.
Iniesta was one of the most acclaimed stars, although the most awaited player was clearly Lionel Messi, who only played for a few minutes at the end of the match.
The atmosphere at FNB Stadium was festive, with spectators “cheering on both teams,” including with vuvuzelas, which brought back memories of the 2010 World Cup, Valverde said.
“We all know what the atmosphere was like here during the World Cup, which was extraordinary,” he added.
Barcelona was invited to South Africa as part of the celebrations marking the centenary of the birth of Nelson Mandela, whom Valverde characterized as “one of history’s greatest men, not only for this country but for all of humanity.”
Although Barcelona easily won the match, Valverde said he was surprised by Mamelodi Sundowns’ speed and enthusiasm.
“The truth is that we didn’t know our opponents very well, who played a great match,” he added.