Seven top footballers from around the world, including Brazilian legend Ronaldinho and Manchester United great Ryan Giggs, arrived in Pakistan on Saturday.
Brazilian football celebrity Ronaldinho will be accompanied by Brazil’s 2002 World Cup winning teammate, Roberto Carlos, former French midfielder Robert Pires, France’s Nicolas Anelka, Portugal’s Luis Boa Morte, Holland’s George Boateng, England’s David James and former Manchester United player Ryan Giggs reached Islamabad early Saturday morning via a private jet.
Ronaldinho will lead the team which will play two matches during their visit to Pakistan. First match will be played on Saturday at Hockey Club of Pakistan in Karachi, whereas the second match will take place on Sunday in Lahore.
The match will be seven or six a side fixture to be played on July 8 evening at Abdul Sattar Edhi hockey stadium Karachi.
England’s David James and Dutch star George Boateng are also among the top former players to feature in exhibition games in Pakistan.
Ronaldinho will lead one team and Ryan Giggs will captain the other side. Both the teams will be a mix-up of foreign and local players.
CEO Leisure Leagues, Ishaq Shah believes the tour will help in many ways to promote football in Pakistan.
Furthermore, it’s been said that Ronaldinho will also be inaugurating a football academy being set up in DHA Lahore.
Ronaldinho, who won the World Player of the Year twice and was part of the 2002 World Cup winning team, said he is on a goodwill mission aimed at inducing youngsters to play the game.
“I am excited at the prospect of playing in Pakistan,” he said in a statement.
“This is a great opportunity for us to induce youngsters in Pakistan and we will do our best to do that.”
According to the officials, Pakistan Army is providing security for the players and matches, deploying troops in and around hotels, airports and stadiums over the weekend.
COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa will also host a reception in honour of the visiting footballers later today before the group flies to Karachi for the inaugural game of ‘Ronaldinho and Friends’.
The good news is that the football game is growing in popularity once more, in a country that is obsessed with cricket.
“It’s a great occasion,” said Pakistan team captain Kaleem Ullah, who also played for Sacramento Republic FC in USA and Kyrgyzstan’s FC Dordoi Bishkek. He will take part in one of the matches.