Ahead of the second Ronaldinho and Friends match in Lahore, former international footballer Ryan Giggs said that “the desire to play football in the country was obvious”. He was speaking alongside the other visiting international players at a press conference on Sunday, where he also expressed his happiness at visiting Pakistan.
“Hopefully we can send the message across the world that Pakistan is a good place to visit and there is love for football here,” he added.
Earlier, Brazilian footballer Ronaldinho shared a minute-long video on Twitter, thanking Pakistan for its warm welcome.
Five other international players, including Dutch star George Boateng, former England goalkeeper David James, former French players Robert Pires and Nicolas Anelka, and Portugal’s Luis Boa Morte, are accompanying Giggs and Ronaldinho to play the exhibition matches in Karachi and Lahore.
Fans thronged to the Karachi stadium for the match late Saturday night, with some travelling long distances for the rare chance to watch the footballing greats.
The glaring lack of organisation in Pakistan, however, did not escape the footballers’ notice. Giggs stressed the need for proper infrastructure, saying that every league and association in the world needs the right infrastructure and coaching, including Pakistan, to improve their international ranking. Pakistan currently stands at 200th in the FIFA ranking; there are 206 teams in total.
“To progress to the next level, you need to bring in the best coaches in the world and not bring their philosophy but a framework and infrastructure so that the Pakistani culture and football in the country can flourish,” Giggs said.