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19.06.2007 21:42

Excitement In South Africa

Sandra Sarmiento/David Puig

FC Barcelona have been met at the airport in Johannesburg by thousands of people after touching down at 20:00 on Tuesday evening for a friendly encounter and Samuel Eto'o was the centre of attention.

The large number of excited locals that were there to meet Frank Rijkaard's side as they came through the terminal were dressed in Barça colours as the team arrived to play South African chanmpions Mamelodi Sundowns in Pretoria in an end-of-season encounter. More than a thousand people were at the arrivals gate and outside the main building in the hope of catching a glimpse of the Barcelona players.

19607SUDAFRICA_x2x.jpgWearing Blaugrana colours and those of Mamelodi, the crowd have chanted the names of the visiting players, especially that of Eto'o, who is an idol of African football supporters. In the middle of the singing, the Barça squad, led by director Albert Perrin and technical secretary, Txiki Begiristain, were met by representatives of the Mamelodi Sundowns' board.

Charity Dinner

19607SUDAFRICA_x8x.jpgAfter arriving in Johannesburg, the entire Barça party travelled to the Sandtown Hotel where they attended a charity dinner that was organised by the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the Fundación FC Barcelona, where 750 guests were present. The sound of the song 'Barcelona' sung by Monsterrat Caballé and Freddie Mercury for the 1992 Olympic Games, boomed out as the Barça committee arrived before Rijkaard was ushered to the font to say a few words. He explained that the team was delighted to be in South Africa and that it was an honour to be invited for the game and for the dinner and he hoped that everyone enjoyed themselves throughout.

Great Expectations

19607SUDAFRICA.jpgThe game between the South African champions and FC Barcelona on Wednesday has been hotly-anticipated in South Africa. All 45,000 places in the Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria have been sold. The ground will used as a venue for the 2010 World Cup Finals. Each and every time Barça travel abroad the interest in the club grows and the trip to South Africa has proven that once again. The game on Wednesday will the be fourth game the club has played on African soil, having already played in Algeria in 1932, in Egypt in 1961 and earlier this season and in Morocco in 1969.
Excitement In South Africa

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