Only 5 000 Barca tickets left

Sipho Mthembu

Sipho Mthembu

The "sold out" signs for the high-profile friendly between Spanish giants FC Barcelona and Premier Soccer League champions Mamelodi Sundowns are expected to go up some time today.

At 9am yesterday, there were only 5 000 of the 39 000 tickets left at Computicket.

Alex Shakoane, Sundowns' marketing and public relations executive director, said the game has appeal across racial lines.

"We are proud that we have made a little contribution towards breaking racial barriers at club football level," Shakoane said.

Barcelona, meanwhile, have made it clear they were not taking the game for granted.

An advance party comprising their marketing manager, Steven Dawson, and head of security Casper Stylsig are already in the country and took a tour yesterday to fulfil a mandate of approving protocol, logistics, the hotel and transport facilities.

"So far so good," Shakoane said yesterday. "They have even assured us they will go back and tell people in Spain that they have nothing to worry about as regards the 2010 World Cup."

The star-studded Barcelona are expected to touch down at 8pm this evening.

It was not clear yesterday if their private jet would land at the OR Tambo or Lanseria airports.

On landing, the team will be whisked to the Sandton Convention Centre for a gala dinner where they will meet former president Nelson Mandela.

Shakoane said Barca coach Frank Rijkaard, captain Carlos Puyol, Ronaldinho and Samuel Eto'o will address the media.

Meanwhile, Sundowns players returned from holiday yesterday and went for medicals.

They will have a full training session this morning ahead of tomorrow evening's showdown.

Barcelona, on the other hand, routed Gimnastic 5-1 in their last league game, but that was a little too late as Real Madrid beat Real Mallorca 3-1 and snatched the title with a better head-to-head record.