Ronaldinho danced the samba and then suddenly switched to the kwassa-kwassa. He wriggled his body much to the amazement of Sundowns players, who stared at his innovative jiving technique and that momentary lapse in concentration cost them dearly as the Brazilian sent in a weighted pass to the unguarded far side of the field.
It found young Mark Crosas unmarked and he had enough time to pick his spot and beat Calvin Marlin with a low shot that sailed to the far corner to clinch the Goodwill Cup they appeared to have lost when the visitors went in arrears as early as the second minute.
Sundowns needed a confidence booster and it couldn’t have come at a better time than the second minute of the match when Josta Dladla’s cross was skipped by Brent Carelse and found a lurking Surprise Moriri, who picked his spot and fired into the net.
The goal seemed to rattle Barcelona and perhaps the altitude hit them as they had only arrived the previous night in South Africa. They even failed to honour a training session at the Loftus venue where hundreds of kids had waited in vain for the Catalans, who were said to have been resting.
Barcelona struggled to settle down to their vaunted passing game and, at times, they slipped on the pitch that is earmarked to host some of the 2010 World Cup matches, while Sundowns blossomed under the watchful eyes of a packed stadium and millions of television viewers around the world.
They also showed the world what South African football was all about as they dished out one of their finest performances and matched the Catalans stride for stride and man for man in a pulsating match that sizzled with excitement as play swung from end to end throughout an evenly balanced game until the final quarter when Barcelona took control.
“Personally I was scared,” admitted Esrom Nyandoro, who surprisingly had a solid game in the holding position where he kept things tight, yet simple.
“But I soon settled down and played my normal game. I am not in top physical condition and although I have been suffering from a thigh injury, I think it held up well enough for me to contribute as much as I could. I feel good and hopefully we gave the people what they wanted.