'Ronaldinho and friends' land in Pakistan

The private jet that brought the players had one big name missing, that of Brazilian legend Roberto Carlos

Afp/Taha Anis July 08, 2017

ISLAMABAD: The highly awaited international football superstars touched down in Pakistan today amidst high security at Benazir Bhutto International Airport, Islamabad.

Captains Brazil legend Ronaldinho and Manchester United Stalwart Ryan Giggs, along with a superstar cast of Brazilian Roberto Carlos, former England goalkeeper David James, Dutch star George Boateng, former French players Robert Pires and Nicolas Anelka, and Portuguese player Luis Boa Morte are set to play exhibition matches in Karachi and Lahore.

Pakistan’s biggest footballing event

The private jet that brought the players to Pakistan had one big name missing, that of Brazilian legend Roberto Carlos. The Express Tribune, however, was assured by the organisers that Carlos would be playing the exhibition match.

The first match will be played at Abdul Sattar Edhi Hockey Stadium in Karachi today and second in Lahore tomorrow.

The World Group is the company behind UK-based Leisure Leagues coming to Pakistan in the first place. Pakistani organisers hope to both promote football and show that security in the country has improved in Pakistan. International sport fled the country after an attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in 2009.

Giggs confirmed as Terry's replacement

“We want to revive sports activities in Pakistan, and Balochistan specifically has immense footballing talent but lacks the right platform. We want the youth of Balochistan to register with the LLP, a name that guarantees that they will get to play football without any hardships,” said Mehmood Trunkwala, chairman of the World Group and the man behind the LLP.

Ronaldinho, 37, 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.”

Giggs, who retired after a long career with United in 2014, said he was “privileged” to take part. He replaced former England and Chelsea captain John Terry, who pulled out due to new commitments with English side Aston Villa.

The Pakistani Army is set to provide security for the players and matches, deploying troops in and around hotels, airports and stadiums over the weekend, officials have said.

Pakistan boasted a top place in Asian football until the early 1970s, but a lack of government support and poor infrastructure helped push them to as low as 200th in the FIFA football rankings.

The game is growing in popularity once more, however, even in a country obsessed with cricket.

“It’s a great occasion,” said Pakistan team captain Kaleemullah, who also played for Sacramento Republic FC in USA and Kyrgyzstan’s FC Dordoi Bishkek. He will take part in one of the matches.

Fans in the football-mad Lyari neighbourhood of Karachi said they had spent their savings on tickets. “I want to have a glimpse of Ronaldinho,” said young fan Mohammad Essa.



Pakistani-American | 6 years ago | Reply This is really great!
SHJ | 6 years ago | Reply @Pakistani: India doesn't have to do anything. It will happen in any case.
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