REVEALED: Why Sundowns players did not tackle Messi and his Barcelona teammates

Barcelona Lionel Messi (CR) clears the ball during their friendly match Mamelodi Sundowns vs Barcelona FC for the Mandela Centenary Trophy on May 16, 2018 at FNB Soccer Stadium in Johannesburg.
Barcelona Lionel Messi (CR) clears the ball during their friendly match Mamelodi Sundowns vs Barcelona FC for the Mandela Centenary Trophy on May 16, 2018 at FNB Soccer Stadium in Johannesburg.
Image: AFP PHOTO / GIANLUIGI GUERCIA

Mamelodi Sundowns were under instruction to not kick Barcelona‚ and not get fully stuck in‚ in the 3-1 Mandela Centenary Cup defeat by the Pretoria team at FNB Stadium on Wednesday night.

Sundowns noticeably did not get stuck into Barcelona in the physical challenges‚ particularly in midfield‚ with less contact than might normally have been expected from the Pretoria team in a competitive game.

The Brazilians' coach Pitso Mosimane said‚ with most of Barca’s squad set to compete in the 2018 Fifa World Cup in Russia that kicks off next month‚ he instructed his players to not go rashly into challenges.

“Ja‚ first‚ it was a good game. Second‚ 80 or 90 percent of the [Barcelona] team who came here you will see in Russia‚” Mosimane said.

“So we don’t want to be party-poopers‚ and then you kick somebody out of the World Cup because you have to kick‚ or you want to play too strong.

“So I said to the guys that‚ ‘For us to see a good game of football here‚ not to say that we should allow them to have a party‚ but I’m saying we should not kick’.

“I don’t think that there was a yellow card. [And] there was no need for that.

“If we played in the Fifa Club World Cup we would play differently. We would go all the way.

“But‚ they also did not kick us‚ remember.

“But I think what I like is a game of good football. I think you saw the combination plays‚ the passing patterns.

“You saw that football is not played at 100 kilometres and hour.”

Barca’s headline player who will do duty at Russia 2018 is Argentina superstar Lionel Messi‚ who only was introduced by coach Ernesto Valverde in the 74th minute at FNB.

Messi was clearly the most protected Barcelona player in the 23-man squad‚ 11 of whom started the game‚ and 11 more who came on as half-time replacements‚ with the Argentine held back until late.

Barca’s Spain stars Andres Iniesta and Gerard Pique are expected to retire after the Russia 2018.

The World Cup kicks off on June 14‚ with the final on July 15.

South African soccer fans came together on May 17 2018 to watch a friendly match between FC Barcelona and Mamelodi Sundowns. The match was organised as a celebration of Nelson Mandela’s centenary.

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